By Jill Andreasen, MLIS, Collection Development Librarian
Do you as selectors sometimes avoid or overlook anthologies and story collections for teens? You shouldn’t! 2018 has been an outstanding year for them, giving us a bumper crop of interesting and diverse collections celebrating blackness, the differently abled, LGBTQIA+, even Aussie-only authors!
Anthologies give readers a chance to discover a lot of talent, a multitude of voices and perspectives in one volume. This is never more valuable as when we have fresh, diverse collections with OwnVoices authors being so prominent, so readers can feel confident these perspectives are authentic—that the windows and mirrors are neither filmy nor distorted.
Click here to see a list of great story collections from the past year you’ll want to add to your YA collection.
One of the anthologies I wanted to explore in a little more depth is edited by recent newcomer to the YA scene Ibi Zoboi (American Street, Pride.) Black Enough: Stories of Being Young & Black in America is a multicolored, varied view of the state of black experience in American society—societal tribulations, community joy and community heartbreak, and black identity in all its variations are explored, but the most uniting thread is one of self-discovery and awakening.
Most of the anthology’s selections are very strong, but two stories really leapt off the page: Tochi Onyebuchi’s “Samson and the Delilahs” and Leah Henderson’s “Warning: Color May Fade.” In “Samson,” gifted young orator and son of a Nigerian immigrant Sobechi has his eyes opened to the possibilities of love and metal music by a new next-door neighbor. His clear-tone narrative voice is beautiful and idealistic. Art and speaking personal truth both figuratively and literally take center stage in “Warning,” where young Nivia must find the courage to claim her art and defy expectations.
The other recent fantastic story collection I wanted to feature is Unbroken: 13 Stories Starring Disabled Teens, edited by Marieke Nijkamp (of This is Where it Ends fame.) To my knowledge, this is the first anthology to be collected around teens and disabilities “along a physical, mental, or neurodiverse axis,” and therefore deserves to be celebrated as trailblazing. But not only for that, of course, because these imaginative short stories from new and recognized OwnVoices authors are infinitely engrossing. One that is especially poignant and compelling is William Alexander’s “Found Objects,” which, like a lot of his other work, concerns magic and performance art and uses the second-person point of view addressing his undeclared love interest. Interestingly, the unnamed main character uses his physical disability (described as lacking some strength of body, idiopathic pain, and needing the use of a cane) as a weapon, or to manifest objects in tantalizing ways.
I hope this trend continues into 2019, along with a related movement of increased author collaboration in general, to give us rich, tantalizing stories to spark our imaginations. I’ve already whetted my appetite for a story collection coming from Simon Pulse in the summer called Hungry Hearts:13 Tales of Food & Love, a group of interconnected stories that explores family, culture, and food!
See our list of our great Diverse YA Story Collections from the past year.