Kindred: #AusQueerYA Review

43197387Kindred: 12 Queer #LoveOzYA Stories, a #AusQueerYA anthology
Genre: Young Adult, LGBT fiction, Short Stories
Publication: June 1st 2019
Publisher: Walker Books Australia
Source: #AusYABloggers #KindredStories tour
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Rating: ✵✵✵✵

What does it mean to be queer? What does it mean to be human? In this powerful #LoveOzYA collection, twelve of Australia’s finest writers from the LGBTQ+ community explore the stories of family, friends, lovers and strangers – the connections that form us.

This inclusive and intersectional #OwnVoices anthology for teen readers features work from writers of diverse genders, sexualities and identities, including writers who identify as First Nations, people of colour or disabled. With short stories by bestsellers, award winners and newcomers to young adult fiction including Jax Jacki Brown, Claire G Coleman, Michael Earp, Alison Evans, Erin Gough, Benjamin Law, Omar Sakr, Christos Tsiolkas, Ellen van Neerven, Marlee Jane Ward, Jen Wilde and Nevo Zisin.

Includes a foreword by anthology editor Michael Earp, resources for queer teens, contributor bios and information about the #LoveOzYA movement.


I was super excited when I first heard about Kindred. It’s always fantastic seeing queer fiction make it’s way out into the world. Even better when it’s a Aussie anthology with a diverse range of #OwnVoices authors. I was over the moon when Micheal Earp and Walker Books excepted our (the other #AusYaBloggers & readers group mods and I) pitch for hosting a queer only tour.

I made my way down to the Sydney Writers Festival’s YA day at Parramatta’s Riverside Theater buzzing with excitement to attend the Kindred panel.  Hearing Micheal talk about how Kindred came to be and hearing some of the authors talk about their writing, only made me more excited to see the book in our tour participants hands. It’s now day five of the tour and it’s my stop.

This is the first anthology I’ve read that swaps genre. Anthology’s always have a theme, be it first kisses, summer holidays, landing on new planet etc. and in Kindred case, being Queer. I’ve only ever read anthologies where the stories are all sci-fi or contemporary romances etc.
When I first heard of Kindred I thought/assumed it was going to be a series of contemporary short stories where the authors fictionalised a positive queer experience for the benefit of teen readers new/struggling with their queerness. You know, to give them hope, and so they could see themselves represented etc. I guess really, this is what I had hoped Kindred would be.
Never the less the moving around of genres didn’t really bother me (most were contemporary anyways) as I do try to read a little of all genres for variety. I LOVED the variety of own voices rep! So ****ing awesome to see! It makes my heart sing!

BUUUUUT, Trigger warnings – homophobia, death of loved one, ableism, depression, racism, transphobia, pedophilia. Yeah it gets heavy folks. But life is heavy. Okay, I get that. But a story can get heavy and hard and dark, then still end up leaving you filled with light and hope and love. As far as positive examples for teens, I think Kindred may have missed the mark – but you’ll have to ask a teens option on that. I wanted happy queer stories to combat the ugly of the real world. But that’s what I wanted. I still think this is a brilliant and much needed collection and I hope it opens the door to more queer collections.

RATS by Marlee Jane Ward. F/F romance. I found this story a little odd. A semi futuristic world. Homeless teens know as rats. Some insta-love with a trouble seeking open air ”babe” and a “rat” tunnel dweller. Mostly I liked it.

IN CASE OF EMERGENCY, BREAK GLASS by Erin Gough. Questioning protagonist, f/f romance. A sweet and heartwarming contemporary story with a magical realism twist. I found it a delight to read.

BITTER DRAUGHT by Michael Earp. M/M relationship.  Two young men, a sick little sister and a journey to see a witch to get a cure. I enjoyed it for the most part, but it had a sad ending. Why Micheal, why.

I LIKE YOUR ROTATION by Jax Jacki Brown. Lesbian wheelchair-using protagonist and love interest. Super sweet self discovery story focusing on the intersection of disability and identity, exploring friendship and sexuality. I really enjoyed it and would have loved to be able to have kept reading.

SWEET by Claire G. Coleman. POC non-binary protagonist. This one left me feeling really unsettled. It was a swap around story where the oppressed became the oppressors. It just felt harsh and bitter. And I worry it might be harmful to some younger readers.

LIGHT BULB by Nevo Zisin. Non-binary protagonist. Absolutely breathtakingly beautiful. Dark and deep. I wholeheartedly loved it. It spoke to the darkness in my soul. My Jam! Maybe you’d class the story as horror? But to me there was nothing horrific about it. Please Nevo write more fiction!!!

WAITING by Jen Wilde. Autistic bisexual protagonist. Contemporary tale dealing with toxic friendships. A story with a happy ending! The protagonist finds people she feels comfortable being herself with. True friends in the making. And brownie points to Jen for the Brooklyn 99, Stephanie Beatriz nods!

LAURA NYRO AT THE WEDDING by Christos Tsiolkas. M/M relationship. No, just no. Totally inappropriate for a teen anthology! – The story is not even YA and the side subject matter (student/teacher relationship). I just…no. No.

EACH CITY by Ellen van Neerven. POC protagonist, f/f relationship. I found the story to have an abrupt unresolved ending. Didn’t feel like the story got to finish, felt like it was only just beginning and I want the rest. This just left me feeling empty and unsettled. Ellen, did she make it home? I need/want to know how it all played out.

AN ARAB WEREWOLF IN LONDON by Omar Sakr. Muslim gay protagonist, Muslim m/m love interest. Without the werewolf element this could have been a smoking hot m/m contemporary. But I really liked it as it was. I’ve got Omar’s These Wild Houses sitting on my shelf to read, but i’d also love to read more fiction like this from Omar!!

STORMLINES by Allison Evans. Non-binary protagonist. A heartwarming story about finding somewhere that feels like home.

QUESTIONS TO ASK STRAIGHT RELATIVES by Benjamin Law. Chinese/Australian gay protagonist, background m/m relationship. More personal essay then short story. But I loved it and felt it was the perfect way to finish of a queer anthology.


 Follow along with the tour here > > The AusYABloggers Tour Schedule

Purchase Links: Angus and RobinsonBooktopiaAmazon AustraliaFishpondThe Book Depository

 

If you purchase the book from The Little Bookroom you can have it signed By Michael Earp. All you have to do is mention in the order notes that you followed the Kindred Tour and would like your copy signed by Michael.

For people looking to find a bookshop near them: Find A Bookshop.

Thanks for visiting sarahfairbairn.com 🙂
Until next time, enjoy your shelves 🙂

6 Comments on “Kindred: #AusQueerYA Review

  1. Absolutely lovely review, Sarah!
    Your thoughts and opinions on each of the stories pretty much matched my own.
    Some of the stories could have totally been longer (*cough* Jen and Erin’s *cough*) for sure.
    I completely agree with you on the Laura Nyro at the Wedding, too. Especially considering the protagonist was in his 20s for the majority of the story (and late teens when the start of the story was set).
    Thank you for sharing your thoughts. 💜

  2. Pingback: Kindred: 12 Queer #LoveOzYA Stories | Blog Tour | Dusk Angel Reads

  3. Such a well written and beautiful review Sarah and I couldn’t agree more, queer teens need positive stories which aren’t necessarily about being queer but positive storylines for characters who happen to be queer. I haven’t read this one yet but from what I’ve heard so far, it feels very adultcentric which is a shame. It would be great to see more teen authors included in anthologies for teens but I hope this might be the first of many queer anthologies, wonderful review Sarah and you’ve done an incredible job with the blog tour!

    • Thanks Kelly ❤ ❤ ❤ Love you and all the things you do for our crew ❤ 🙂
      A queer YA anthology with all queer teen authors! GOALS!! but yeah, fingers crossed this is the first of many to come.

  4. Pingback: Book Tag: Spring Cleaning | Lost In Literature

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