I’ve never been a big fan of short stories, so a collection has to be really special in order to entice me to pick it up. I’m also not usually terribly fond of historical fiction. What I am a big fan of is excellent queer representation in my books, especially those written for teens. When I saw Anna-Marie McLemore was in this collection that tipped the scales for me, and I dove in. I’m so very glad I did. Not only did I discover some new authors I’m interested in reading, but this book made my heart very happy.
While most of the stories are straight up historical fiction, some range into magical realism and pure fantasy. Each of them takes on a different time period and flavor, and explores a different teen experience. I was happy to see many different facets of the queer community represented – while most of the stories have gay and lesbian characters there are also trans characters, bisexuals, and an asexual. Including a wider spectrum of inclusion made this collection extra special to me. All of the stories are fairly short, and the writing was good throughout (and occasionally exceptional). Anthologies are always going to be a little lopsided (you’re going to like some pieces more than others), but this one had far more gems than not. There was really only one story I didn’t care for, and the rest I either loved or liked, which is pretty impressive given there are seventeen.
My favorites were: Roja by Anna-Marie McLemore, Burnt Umber by Mackenzi Lee, Every Shade of Red by Elliot Wake, Three Witches by Tessa Gratton, The Inferno and the Butterfly by Shaun David Hutchinson, Healing Rosa by Tehlor Kay Mejia… There was a lot in here to love, and I can’t wait to recommend this book far and wide. I wish this collection had existed when I was younger – I am ever so thankful it exists now.
You can grab a copy of All Out online here, or call the store to reserve your copy!