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Celebrating Pride: A Spotlight on LGBTQIA+ Literature & Their Covers

By Megan Coote, Tessa Thejas Thomas, Juliette Tulloch & Abbie Wright 


We’re celebrating Pride Month by putting the spotlight on LGBTQIA+ stories. Each of these books deserves a place on your reading list this month and all year round, and their cover designs are just as captivating as the stories inside.


Chlorine by Jade Song

Jade Song’s debut tells the story of teenage Ren Yu, a competitive swimmer driven to extremes by societal pressure. At the core, Chlorine is a novel that explores identity, sapphic longing, race, adolescence and mental health, but with the addition of domestic horror and mermaid folklore. 


The cover was designed by UK freelance designer Victoria Heath Silk and features a bold illustration by Kenn Lam. The central feature is a mermaid's tail submerged in the ocean, but a human hand can also be seen emerging from the water, indicating her transformation is not complete. The gold foiling on the cover adds a touch of magic to the design, suggesting the transformation is happening in front of our eyes. The cover’s blend of human and mermaid parallels the book’s exploration of the authentic teenage girl experience with additional mythical elements such as Ren’s transformation.


The darker element of the book is hinted at by the blood on both the mermaid's tail and hand. Ren’s transformation is brutal, stripping away the classic, more palatable image of mermaids we are usually exposed to. The blood can also be tied to menstruation and a significant moment in the book marking the beginning of Cathy and Ren’s close relationship after Cathy helps Ren with her tampon at the pool, and Cathy’s handwritten letters to Ren. 


Housemates by Emma Copley Eisenberg

Housemates is the 2024 contemporary novel written by Emma Copley Eisenberg, encompassing queer love, friendship, art and the importance of chosen family. The novel follows two housemates who embark on a road trip that causes them to connect on an even deeper level. The characters, Leah and Bernie, learn to embrace their dreams, share ideas for the future and form a romantic connection over the course of their three-week journey.

The book’s cover gives little away about the plot of the novel, however, the smaller details make it a perfect companion to the novel. The use of green, pink and blue throughout the design creates an aesthetically pleasing colour palette, with the green being used to lay out a road that seemingly leads to a sunset. This is a subtle nod to the pair’s road trip. 

The title of the novel is also at the end of this road, and this adds an extra layer to the cover overall. The background of the rows of houses directly links to the title, Housemates, and provides a pleasing background image to tie the whole cover together.  


When Katie Met Cassidy by Camille Perri

Camille Perri’s When Katie Met Cassidy is a romantic comedy following two women whose lives intertwine and change as they meet unexpectedly and fall in love. When Katie Met Cassidy is comedic, funny and heartfelt. It has a strong focus on gender, sexuality and what it means to belong. 


The cover is vibrant and fun, a strong indicator of the story itself. The background depicts two faces as their lips meet. From one angle, you can see the side profile of one face, and from another angle, you can see the front profile of a different face. Both combine to form one pink lip behind part of the title: “met”. This design choice is feminine and flirtatious, much like the tone of the story. Likewise, the font is bold and script-like, which compliments the romantic comedy genre of the novel. Apart from black used for the title, the rest of the cover uses hues of pink, white and beige. There are a few variations of the cover, but all follow a similar style and composition, with the focal point being two lips meeting to form one.


After Sappho by Selby Wynn Schwartz 

Schwartz’s light historical fiction centres around lesbian artists, writers and activists who were championing women’s rights within Europe at the start of the 20th century. After Sappho focuses on European figures such as Virginia Woolf, Romaine Brooks, Lina Poletti and Eleonora Duse. Whilst celebrating these beloved figures, Schwartz reimagines them with humour and lyricism. Told through several powerful vignettes, it’s clear why it was longlisted for the 2022 Booker Prize.


Galley Beggar Press’ 2023 edition (courtesy of designer Holly Ovenden) features multiple hazy figures, mimicking puzzle pieces that will carefully fit together as one. The varying positions of their bodies around the cover demonstrate the erratic journeys each of them will go on and the blocks they will push hard against to dismantle. The entwining nature of the title and the reviews that are carefully placed within, demonstrate that this retelling will transcend the borders of history and the present to bring hope.


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