I was kindly sent Proud by Stripes Books in exchange for an honest review :)
Check out the blurb here...
A stirring, bold and moving anthology of stories and poetry by top LGBTQ+ YA authors and new talent, giving their unique responses to the broad theme of pride. Each story has an illustration by an artist identifying as part of the LGBTQ+ community. Compiled by Juno Dawson, author of THIS BOOK IS GAY and CLEAN.
A celebration of LGBTQ+ talent, PROUD is a thought-provoking, funny, emotional read.
Contributors: Steve Antony, Dean Atta, Kate Alizadeh, Fox Benwell, Alex Bertie, Caroline Bird, Fatti Burke, Tanya Byrne, Moïra Fowley-Doyle, Frank Duffy, Simon James Green, Leo Greenfield, Saffa Khan, Karen Lawler, David Levithan, Priyanka Meenakshi, Alice Oseman, Michael Lee Richardson, David Roberts, Cynthia So, Kay Staples, Jessica Vallance, Kristen Van Dam and Kameron White.
Following A CHANGE IS GONNA COME, winner of the YA BOOK PRIZE SPECIAL ACHIEVEMENT AWARD 2018
I was expecting huge things from this anthology, since the publicity for the book began well over a year ago. It's safe to say I was not disappointed! Most people who know me know I love short stories, both reading them and writing them. They are a challenge, and the process is so different from reading or writing a novel. In my creative writing classes at uni we were basically fed MFA stories for the three years, so it's refreshing to read something a bit different, a bit less, shall we say pedantic. Proud is just one of those collections that explore every human emotion with heaps of understanding and compassion. It is a book that prioritises celebrating, and that is why I loved it.
The variation in this book was wonderful. There is representation for almost every aspect of the LGBT+ community and each story or poem was brilliant in its own way. Reading Proud is quite an emotional rollercoaster, to be honest, as you will go from a highly emotional story to one that is so moving your heart could burst, to one that makes you snort with laughter on a packed train (yup, that happened). I loved that the stories and poems had accompanying artwork - my favourite had to be Alice Oseman's penguin artwork! As for my favourite stories, I adored 'Penguins' by Simon James Green, 'The Instructor' by Jess Valance, 'Almost Certain' by Tanya Byrne and 'I Hate Darcy Pemberley' by Karen Lawler. I also loved the poem 'How To Come Out As Gay' by Dean Atta (this one should be on a billboard). All of these pieces were so different but they all completely gripped me and rendered me a complete emotional wreck at the end of them!
I adored how unapologetically loud this book is (and I'm not just talking about the cover!) Proud is a glittering, flag-raising, fist-in-the-air celebration of difference and being yourself, refusing to be sidelined by anyone who doesn't respect that. Juno Dawson's introduction really put this book into perspective for me, and emphasised even more how desperately we needed this book, and still need more books like it. I am hoping for another anthology, but either way, I am hopeful for the future, in the way the YA publishing industry is creating books like these. Forever may that continue.
I was so stoked to be part of the Proud blog tour a couple of weeks ago, where I chose my favourite LGBT+ YA books, and explained how they helped me become a better ally. Check that post out here.
Buy Proud here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Proud-Various/dp/1788950607
Check out Juno Dawson here: https://www.junodawson.com
Until next time :)