Book Review | Rating – 4/5 | Genre – Young Adult/Poetry
If I remember correctly, this was a book that I came across during my years at university. This was a time when I had been discovering and getting comfortable with my sexuality, something that I had been getting help with through David Levithan’s LGBT focused books. For the first time I’d come across an author that actually placed characters like myself in books. When it came to this book I found myself incredibly intrigued by the unique formatting of the writing and the idea of an anthology of short stories.
One school. Twenty voices. Endless possibilities. There’s the girl who is in love with Holden Caulfield. The boy who wants to be strong who falls for the girl who’s convinced she needs to be weak. The girl who writes love songs for a girl she can’t have. The two boys teetering on the brink of their first anniversary. And everyone in between. (synopsis from Goodreads)
What did I think?
I mean there is a definite reason why I’ve gone back to read this book many times over the years I’ve owned it. There is something I always enjoy about a good anthology of short stories – and this collection works really well in its ability to tell multiple stories that could also be connected. By basing the overall book in the world of a school it makes so much sense why these specific stories are layed out as they are.
As a theatre buff – it was really exciting to read stories that break the boundaries of normal writing structure. Each story offers a more personal approach to how a person would write out their thoughts, to the point where it feels more like reading a person’s journal entry. It really does capture multiple different voices and portrays the characters’ ages perfectly.
All good points aside, I will also say that the reason I didn’t rate it a full 5 star is due to the sheer amount of stories that are included in the collection. I understand it focuses on a number of students in a school, and there are connections between some of the stories – but after a while it got very difficult to understand who the stories may have been talking about.
The best points…
- Brilliant characters – As I’ve said, each story brings the voice of another student to the reader. I think this is where the book really stands out. Each character’s personality comes through in the structure of their story, as well as the general topic of each story letting us understand what they’re going and what sort of person they are.
- Poetic/Theatre Friendly – Every time I read this collection I find myself imagining the world these characters sit in differently. Sometimes I picture it as a movie, with the stories acting as a voice over for a beautiful movie scene; then other times I can envision it as a theatre production.
- Diverse voices – Much like other David Levithan novels, this collection offers a diverse group of voices – providing representation (realistic representation) of LGBT+ characters, BAME characters, as well as characters dealing with mental health issues. It is always this that draws me to David’s books.
I always recommend this book to my friends and other book lovers, I just enjoy it that much, and I will continue to repeatedly read this in my life. There is always a caution that it isn’t written like your typical book, with a much more unique structure.
Now, that I’ve read this book this year I’ll be turning my attention back to David Levithan’s other works. I’ll definitely be re-reading the books I already own, and looking to buy more of his books. Its always just nice to read books where I can actually see myself represented in them.