Monday, November 18, 2019

Book Review: "Color Outside the Lines: Stories about Love" edited by Sangu Mandanna

Color Outside the Lines is a collection of YA stories celebrating all kinds of love.

I was really excited when I first heard of this book, for several reasons. I’ll admit the first reason was the promise of a new story from Adam Silvera, as I’ve been going through withdrawal until his new book comes out next year.

But I also really love short stories, and was excited about the idea of a collection focused on stories about interracial and LGBTQ+ relationships. Those relationships are certainly more prevalent in YA fiction than elsewhere, and it’s so great to see them depicted so fairly and so well.

This is an interesting collection because the stories aren’t just fiction or romance; some are science fiction, historical fiction, or fantasy. I definitely felt the collection was much heavier on the interracial side than the LGBTQ+ side, which really provided me a different area of focus.

As with any story collection, there were ones I absolutely loved, ones I totally didn’t get, and some that were simply good and entertaining. (The Adam Silvera story was adorable but way, way too short for him to get top billing.) The best thing is that many were written by authors with whom I’m unfamiliar, so I’ll get to check their other work out now.

Among my favorites were: "Turn the Sky to Petals" by Anna-Marie McLemore, which was about a musician and a dancer both suffering from the physical demands of their talent; "Your Life Matters" by L.L. McKinney, which told of an interracial lesbian couple battling a father with reasonably racist beliefs, with a superhero twist thrown in; "The Coward's Guide to Falling in Love" by Caroline Tung Richmond, about two best friends, and one is trying to get their nerve up to move their friendship to something else; "What We Love" by Lauren Gibaldi, in which two high school students are brought together by their desire to enact revenge on a bigoted classmate; "Five Times Shiva Met Harry" by Sangu Mandanna, about random interactions which could propel a couple to get together or stay apart; and "Sandwiched in Between" by Eric Smith, in which an interracial couple deals with Thanksgiving at both of their houses, and realizes no one is completely innocent of bigotry no matter how well meaning.

These stories were thought-provoking and entertaining, and as I've said many times, I'm so glad that YA literature is so willing to explore social issues and the idea that love is love is love. I wish it was like that when I was younger!

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