Queer Books: Representation in literature provides sense of identity to readers


Photo by Maya Hruskar ’23

“The Miseducation of Cameron Post” by Emily M. Danforth is a fictional portrayal of the journey of a gay girl as she endures the trials of conversion therapy.

Many may not realize it, but all around us are people and media who portray straight relationships and effectively act as guides (for better or worse) for heterosexual roles in society. So, for those like me who are growing up queer it can be difficult to find role models. As a result, I am always on the hunt for high-quality media with queer representation. The following four books are some of the best literary portrayals of the queer experience, relationships and struggles I’ve found.

“The Miseducation of Cameron Post” by Emily M. Danforth follows the life of Cameron Post, a gay teenage girl who grows up in conservative Montana. The first half of the story vividly documents her struggle with identity and discovery of her sexuality as she grows up. The second half follows her journey after she’s discovered and sent to a conversion camp. Heartbreakingly relatable to many queer teenagers, the book features beautiful prose and an enthralling journey documenting the innocence of childhood to discovering one’s identity and sexuality amid a culture of religious homophobia. This book was adapted into a movie as well starring Chloe Grace Moretz.


“What they teach here, […] if you don’t trust it, then you’re told that you’re going to hell, that not only everyone you know is ashamed of you, but that Jesus himself has given up on your soul. And if you do believe all of this you still can’t make yourself good enough, because what you’re trying to change isn’t changeable.” (Danforth) 


“The Priory of the Orange Tree” by Samantha Shannon tells the story of a queer romance amid a great war. (Photo by Maya Hruskar ’23)

“The Priory of the Orange Tree” by Samantha Shannon is an epic fantasy that, amid magic, dragons, and war, tells the love story of two women on opposing sides of history. Ead Duryan, lady-in-waiting for the queen, is also a member of a hidden society of mages sent to the capitol to protect the queen with the very magic she’s outlawed. Queen Sabran, meanwhile, is under pressure to conceive a daughter and continue the matriarchal line that has kept the queendom safe for a thousand years. Don’t mistake this story for a romance. It deals with the complicated struggle of two women attempting to fulfill the duties they are bound to amid a time of great political unrest, while navigating the potential of their relationship.


“Some truths are safest buried. Some castles best kept in the sky. There’s promise in tales that are yet to be spoken.” (Shannon)


“This is How You Lose the Time War” by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone tells the story of two agents across time that fall in love through letters they leave on the battlefield. (Photo by Maya Hruskar ’23)

“This is How You Lose the Time War” by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone tells the story of two rival agents in a war across time. The tale begins as Agent Red leaves a battlefield taunt letter for Agent Blue, and continues as their written exchanges become more intimate amid their growing disloyalty to the factions that they represent. This genre-breaking title is undoubtedly one of the best queer romance books out there, featuring immersive prose and incomparable character complexity. 


“Books are letters in bottles, cast into the waves of time, from one person trying to save the world to another” (El-Mohtar, Gladstone).

“The Jasmine Throne” by Tasha Suri portrays a romance between an ambitious princess sentenced to death and a servant with a mystical past. ( Photo by Maya Hruskar ’23 )

“The Jasmine Throne” by Tasha Suri tells the story of a revolution in an ancient, Indian fantasy empire. It follows a servant who hides her connection to a persecuted mystical religion as she serves in the prison of a disgraced princess. Princess Malini spends her days drugged in the Hirana, an ancient temple connected to the entrance of the magical and hidden “deathless waters.” Priya, a maidservant, is caught up in Malini’s manipulative quest for escape when her abilities are accidentally revealed. This tale sees the evolution of their unlikely relationship as the two characters’ goals increasingly mallalign. Priya wants to survive. Malini wants to rule.


“After all, power makes everyone monstrous. At least a little.” (Suri) 

Ultimately the power that queer representation in books has on individuals cannot be underestimated. Seeing somebody like you in a book can lend a sense of belonging and identity to young readers still figuring out their sexuality. These books are some of the best queer representation, so get to reading!