I’m not all that big on anthologies, and it takes a truly special one to really grab my attention. When I heard about Fresh Ink and had the chance to read the general synopsis regarding it, I knew I needed to read it. I wanted to read each and every story – those written by authors I already love, and those written by authors I haven’t really had a chance to read before.
Fresh Ink is such a wonderful collection of short stories and it is full of diverse characters that pop off the page and really come to life. There are stories of romance, fantasy stories, and even stories about friendship and self discovery. I love the wide variety of different stories that are included in the collection and I feel that no matter who you are, in this book there is at least one story that will appeal to you. There is at least one story that you will connect with and fall in love with. I had a few stories that I absolutely loved and didn’t want to end.
Eraser Tattoo by Jason Reynolds is a story about two teenagers who have a romance going, but one of the characters is moving far away, and they aren’t sure how well their romance is going to weather the move. The story has a cozy, intimate feel that is sure to leave your heart feeling touched. 4/5 stars
Meet Cute by Malinda Lo shows us a blossoming connection between to girls at the Denver Science Fiction and Fantasy Convention. Dressed as Scully and a gender flipped Sulu, they get stuck during a power outage and find friendship with each other, and maybe something a little bit more. 4/5 stars
Don’t Pass Me By by Eric Gansworth is a story about what it’s like to be you when you’re not like everyone else. The main character struggles with his identity of being an Indian teenager in a school full of mostly white kids, and during health class he finally decides to stand up for himself, at the same time getting the attention of a girl he has a crush on. 4/5 stars
Be Cool for Once by Sminsh Mae Safi takes us to a concert with the main character and her best friend. When the main character sees her crush at the show, she finally decides to state to him exactly how she feels, and hopes that for once, things will finally be cool and go as planned. 3/5 stars
Tags by Walter Dean Myers is a heart wrenching story told in the form of a play, with four main characters telling stories about how they came to be where they are. The twist in this story will definitely give you chills. 4.5/5 stars
Why I Learned to Cook by Sara Farizan is definitely my favorite story in the collection. In the story, the main character is reluctant to introduce her girlfriend to her grandmother, unsure of how it will go. The main character must come to terms with her own sexuality and culture, and tackle the odds that lie before her. 5/5 stars
A Stranger at the Bochinche by Daniel José Older is not a favorite story in the collection for me, but it was interesting. It was a bit of a fantasy story about one character stealing one of the main characters’ notebook with plans in it that they could use for evil, and the two main character trying to get it back. 3/5 stars
A Boy’s Duty by Sharon G. Flake is a story that is set in the World War II period. My second favorite story in the anthology, it tells about a boy who has left his father’s farm to search out something different for himself, only to find himself homeless and spending time in a diner, where one of the owners doesn’t like him much. He falls in with the wrong crowd and has to find a way to make things right. 5/5 stars
One Voice: A Something In-Between Story by Melissa de la Cruz is a powerful story that takes you through the thoughts and feelings of one girl who is living in place with racism, hatred, and ignorance runs rampant. Forced to find her inner voice that tells her to stand up for herself, the main character goes through a difficult time when her boyfriend doesn’t see the big deal in what’s going on around them. 5/5 stars
Paladin/Samurai by Gene Luen Yang, Illustrations by Thien Pham is a well done graphic short story that deals with issues such as race, friendship, bullying, and that first crush feeling. 4/5 stars
Catch, Pull, Drive by Schuyler Bailar tells the story of a teenager who has recently come out to everyone as transgender and the responses he gets – from the negative responses from school bullies to the positive ones that he finds in a friend – this powerful story is another one of my favorites in the collection. It is timely and important, and definitely a story that everyone should read. 5/5 stars
Super Human by Nicola Yoon is a story that involves a super hero who is fed up with how people of other races are treated by white cops, and is looking for a reason not to destroy humanity. In the story, the first person that he ever rescued has been tasked with giving him a reason to remember that there is still some good among people in the world. 4.5/5 stars
While I definitely had some favorites, all the stories in this book dealt with important issues and diversity in such a way that this book should be required reading for teenagers everywhere. The timely stories are sure to not only impress, but also keep you entertained as you really get inside the heads of some of the well written characters. Who knows, you might even find yourself inside one of the stories.
Some of the authors, such as Nicola Yoon, Sara Farizan, and Sharon G. Flake, have been favorite authors of mine for some time now, and there are other authors here, such as Jason Reynolds, who are new to me. The best part about reading anthologies, in my opinion, is the fact that you get to read work from authors you haven’t read previously, encouraging you to search out more of their books and read those, too.
This book definitely deserves a place on your shelf – get it from your local library, purchase a copy, lend it to a friend – everyone should read these amazing stories.
“I absolutely love this mix of established and newer talents, and I’m really intrigued and excited by the mixed formats.” –BookRiot
“A powerful and varied collection…”—Booklist, starred review
“The stories are distinct in themes, subjects, genres, and formats, creating an inclusive, authentic, and incredible collection”—School Library Journal, starred review
3 winners will win a finished copy of FRESH INK US Only.
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