Discussion: You Don’t Need to Choose Just One | We Deserve Good Representation *AND* Good Stories

It’s Sunday, and that means it is discussion time! This week’s topic is one that I’ve been thinking about for awhile now. A lot of my recent reads have been diverse books, whether that involves sexuality or mental health or body image. While a lot of them have been good, there have also been a lot that are lackluster.

So that got me thinking.

Everyone loves good representation, especially if the issues is close to your heart. For example, I have depression, so while I’m really tough on books that deal with it, I also really love books that portray it well.

DISCLAIMER: The books I use from here on out are just examples. As many of them involve aspects that I have no right to comment on (ex: PoC, body shapes, etc.), I’m just commenting on them based on my personal involvement with elements of their diversity.

So if you’re Asian, or you have a unique body shape, or you have bipolar disorder, you’re going to want to see an accurate representation of those things in fiction, right? I know it makes me cringe when an author does a bad job portraying depression.

But what if the representation is accurate, but the story itself is bad?

Example: a story has GREAT f/f representation, but the book itself is boring, or confusing, or just generally unlikeable. Now you have a dilemma on your hands. Do you recommend the book because it has good representation, or do you not because the story itself is not good?

That’s what I want to talk about today. You don’t have to choose between good representation OR a good story. You deserve to find a book that has both.

I’m very privileged in a sense that characters like myself are often portrayed accurately in a lot of books, and because of the amount of them, there’s bound to be a bunch of good books from that pool. As a white female who deals with depression and body image on occasion, among other things, I’ve come across a bunch of books that accurately portray these things.

As I am a huge book pusher, here are a few recommendations!








When We Collided by Emery Lord dealt with not only depression, but bipolar disorder. While I can’t speak for the accuracy of the bipolar disorder, the author accurately portrayed depression AND wrote a damn good story. In All the Bright Places, the story was brilliant (one of my favorite books of 2015!) and the depression rep was spot on. A Court of Mist and Fury also dealt with depression, and what it’s like to overcome hardships and come out the other end strong and resilient.

The book that spurred this all is Labyrinth Lost. While there was f/f representation (in fantasy, no less!!), the story itself was lackluster. I only gave it 2 stars in my review. It’s okay to be happy with a book’s representation, but dislike the book itself. You don’t have to push it towards people. You can say “hey, there’s great f/f rep in this book, but I didn’t like the story itself.”

You are under NO obligations to like every single diverse book. Because while there will be books that have good representation, those same books might not be the best at the writing craft. It doesn’t make you a bad person. It makes you a reviewer–because while we all like good representation, at the end of the day, it boils down to the story itself, and how it stands on its own.

You don’t have to grasp at bread crumbs. We all deserve well written books with good representation on every end of the spectrum.

what are some of you favorite well written diverse books? Do you agree with what I’ve said in this post, or do you have different ideas? Let me know in the comments!


6 thoughts on “Discussion: You Don’t Need to Choose Just One | We Deserve Good Representation *AND* Good Stories

  1. Brooklyn (@bsippingtea) says:

    Interesting topic, I agree with all you’ve said. I also love books you mentioned. Speaking on the topic somewhat, I always find I struggle to separate quality and representation. For example I may read a book with transgender representation but the characters are under developed, the plot is boring and what not, I tend to automatically call it a good book because of the representation. I think it’s important to have good representations and good stories because otherwise theres not a lot of point to it.


  2. Lisa @ The Book Ghoul says:

    You know me, so you know I’m so with you on this topic. lol. I’m all about reading LGBT YA, particularly fantasy, for example (and other types of diversity in general but that’s what I’m most familiar with on a personal level so it’s what I’m going to talk about in this comment), and trying to find good ones, but a lot of the LGBT books out there are coming out stories. I’d like to see more diversity WITHIN diversity, if that makes sense. That is, books that don’t always revolve around the thing that makes the character(s) diverse (their race, their sexuality, etc.)

    I’d like to see LGBT fantasy/contemporary/sci-fi/whatever characters without the coming out plot line.

    That’s what I liked about Ash by Malinda Lo, even though I didn’t like that book a whole lot. The romance was the main plot point, but it wasn’t OH OUR LOVE IS FORBIDDEN or some coming out story. It was just f/f in a fantasy setting and none of the characters really cared that the main couple were female.

    I also like Proxy for this reason. The protagonist is a black gay guy and it’s just part of who he is. I thought that was done very well. (I love that book.)

    TL;DR: Your post is on point.


  3. hermionefowl says:

    I love All the Bright Places! And you’re so right, everyone deserves to have both parts of this. For me, I really like a story where the diversity isn’t the main focus (eg a gay protagonist in a non romance), and that really isn’t hard to write. Hopefully this is something that’s going to change soon…


  4. Zoe says:

    Love, love, LOVE this post. ❤ I completely agree with your recommendations too – All the Bright Places and A Court of Mist & Fury were fantastic and I’ve heard some great things about When We Collided as well.

    I’d also add Stacey Lee’s books Under a Painted Sky and Outrun the Moon as well as Aisha Saeed’s Wrtten in the Stars. Thanks for sharing and, as always, FABULOUS post! ❤


  5. bookwormgirls123 says:

    I totally agree! I try to think of it this way- I want to see diversity IN books. I don’t want to see diversity. I want to see it implemented it in a story. Basically, a story isn’t good because of it’s diversity, and it’s not bad because it doesn’t have any. Diversity should be a given, so if it’s included in a good story, I love it, but if I don’t like the story, it doesn’t matter if there was diversity in it at all. Does that make sense? I feel so confusing haha.


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