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Our Stories, Our Voices: 21 YA Authors Get Real About Injustice, Empowerment, and Growing Up Female in America, edited by Amy Reed.

April 7, 2018

Our Stories, Our Voices

Our Stories, Our Voices:  21 YA Authors Get Real About Injustice, Empowerment, and Growing Up Female in America, edited by Amy Reed.  Simon Pulse, 2018.

Forthcoming August 2018.

3 stars

Amy Reed has specialized in writing young adult novels, focusing on the experiences of contemporary teenagers in her eight novels.  Looking at the American landscape after the election of Trump, Reed saw widespread anger and violence.  She was particularly concerned about young girls, feeling vulnerable and hopeless in the face of those who would diminish them. Her response was to gather other writers to contribute to an anthology which would help their readers hold on to hope and self-respect.

Our Voices, Our Stories is the collection of short stories that she and 20 other young adult writers offer to young people today.  They are a wonderfully varied group with many different backgrounds.  They reveal a wide range of threats and harassment young people encounter today. The authors and the stories are the embodiment of diversity yet the stories share common themes of despair and isolation and eventual empowerment.   First-person narrators predominant, but it is unclear if the stories are really autobiographical. (I would have like more information about the authors.)

The stories are well-told.  Reed and her co-authors are to be congratulated for their contributions.  They clearly convey the sense that no matter who you are or how little you value yourself, you are not alone.  Others feel the same way.  There is a downside to the book’s emphasis on universals.  While rich in varied details, the stories begin to feel repetitive when read one after the other.  I found them more compelling when read one or two at a time.

I recommend this collection of stories to young adult readers. I hope the book can help girls affirm who they are.  Unlike some young adult books, I do not expect them to have appeal for adult readers.

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