I don’t read a lot of anthologies or short stories, but when I came across this book a few months ago, I was super excited to read it. I waited patiently (okay, so rather impatiently, actually), and thanks to the awesome people at Candlewick Press, I was able to read an advanced copy of it (thanks!).
This is definitely an anthology that every girl should check out – it’s filled with bad-ass heroines that you can’t help but love.
Some of these stories were better than others, and some of them were a real treat because they’re written by authors that I haven’t read before, and now want to go out and binge read all of their other books (such as Lindsay Smith). However, all the stories in this book were beautifully written with a powerful message to the reader – women are important, amazing, and should never be made feel like they aren’t good enough. The stories in this book took bravery, heart, and a desire to be remembered.
While I was reading this, I took some notes, because I wanted to remember how awesome these stories were while I was reading, instead of trying to remember each and every one of them when I had finished. So I’m going to go through these stories one by one, so you can see what they’re each about. The stories go on a timeline, from the 1700’s up until the 1960’s, and are all amazingly well written and give a great look into what life was like for women in these time periods.
1. Mother Carey’s Table, by J. Anderson Coats – Jocasta is a girl disguised as a boy by her father so that they can work together on a pirate ship. While things are going fine, and no one suspects anything, it can’t last forever. When the captain needs a swimmer to sink an incoming warship, Joe volunteers, if she can have the captain’s share of the reward for her and her father. However, when it is discovered that she is a girl instead of a boy, things turn ugly for her.
2. The Journey, by Marie Lu – Yakone lives in a small Alaskan village with her mother, father, and small community. Longing to do more than just “women’s work,” Yakone longs to help her father and the other men deliver the product of the hunt that the men in the village bring home. One day, when Yakone is awaiting her father’s return from a hunt so that she can finally participate in one of these expeditions, the other hunters return with the news that her father’s kayak was attacked by an animal, and he was killed. Soon after, men from far away destroy Yakone’s village, killing her mother and coming for her, so she hitches up the dog sled and takes the spare food out to find another village (and to stay safe).
3. Madeline’s Choice, by Jessica Spotswood – Madeline is a young girl who is in love wit someone whom she is forbidden to be with (he’s white, and she isn’t). When her old friend asks for her hand in marriage, she turns him down and visits a voodoo priestess for help in making up her mind.
4. El Destinos, by Leslye Walton – Valeria is the middle sister in her family, along with Rosa and Maria Elena. Together, the three of them are better known as The Three FAthes – the immortal goddess known in mythology as the goddesses that are responsible for the destiny of mortals. In this story, they are three young Mexican American girls who are found in a desert and adopted by a man and woman. They work together to control the destinies of mortals in Texas in 1848.
5. High Stakes, by Andrea Cremer – High Stakes tells the story of Klio, a young woman who is hired by Mr. Stewart in order to ensure his protection during the Game, an event hosted for fantasy creatures to determine who will be the new ruler of the country. Little does Mr. Stewart know, Klio is harboring a secret of her own that should make him want to stay on her good side.
6. The Red Raven Ball, by Caroline Richmond – Lizzie’s wealthy grandmother is throwing a ball in order to find her a husband. Having been taken out of school before her graduation, because her grandmother believes she should be getting married and securing her financial future instead of finishing her education, Lizze isn’t very thrilled with the idea (or her grandmother). However, she plans to use the ball to help her uncle catch a confederate spy – known only as The Red Raven. While searching for The Red Raven, Lizzie discovers some family secrets and discovers that the identity of The Red Raven is completely unexpected.
7. Pearls, by Beth Revis – In this story, a young woman has no desire to be married to a man who doesn’t treat her right, despite her father trying to force her to marry him. So she hops on a train bound for Wyoming, far away from her life in Boston, and lands herself a job as a teacher in a subscription school.
8. Gold in the Roots of the Grass, by Marissa Meyer – In Gold in the Roots of the Grass, Fei-Yen is a young girl who was brought from California with her uncle, who owns a laundry business. Fei-Yen can commune with the dead and see ghosts, and she uses this to try and help those who are still living (as well as help the dead move on after finishing their last requests). One day a ghost appears and asks for her help for his family – but in the process, Fei-Yen discovers information about his murder and the murders of others – and ends up paying dearly for the information.
9. The Legendary Garrett Girls, by Y. S. Lee – Lily and Clara Garrett run a saloon in Alaska that they inherited from their mother. One day, when a man called Soapy comes to town and demands the girls hand over their saloon to him, the girls try to come up with a plan to not only help them keep what’s theirs, but keep them alive as well – even if they need to fight dirty.
10. The Color of the Sky, by Elizabeth Wein – When Antonia’s hero, Bessie Coleman, comes to town to prepare for a flight show, Tony tries her hardest to meet her. When she does, and gets her autograph, she is over the moon. Then a tragedy strikes, leaving Tony feeling brokenhearted, by determined to pay her respects to her fallen hero and follow her dreams.
11. Bonnie and Clyde, by Saundra Mitchell – Bonnie and Clyde tells the story of a girl who dresses up as a boy to rob banks in order to help her family pay off their debts so they don’t lose their home. But what happens when the law enforcement officer who chases after her after one of her robberies is the boy that she’s in love with?
12. Hard Times, by Katherine Longshore – Hard Times is a story that takes us into the lives of a young homeless girl and the boy that she cares for (and is her best friend). When a reporter follows her to question her way of life for an article he is writing, he gets to know her in a way neither of them expected.
13. City of Angels, by Lindsay Smith – In this beautifully written story, set during World War II, two women are united by their desire to welcome their men back home from the war. One girl has a desire to act, and one has a desire to be a famous screenwriter, but both of them end up finding comfort in each other – and maybe even discover some things about themselves that make them look at life a little differently.
14. Pulse of the Panthers, by Kekla Magoon – This story goes into the life of a young girl who lives with her father and grandmother during beginning of the Black Panther Party in 1967. Her father, who supports them, invites them to their farm to help them – giving them food, a place to practice firing their weapons, and a chance to regroup and talk. However, Sandy discovers that they aren’t as bad as the news is saying they are – and she starts to feel the calling to stand up for what she believes in.
15. The Whole World is Watching, by Robin Talley – During a peace rally in 1968, a group of friends decides to join in. Jill and Diane, best friends for years, have been having feelings for each other, but Jill doesn’t want anyone to know, especially her father, so she pretends that she has a boyfriend. Even though Jill knows that she’s crazy about Diane, she’s afraid of the ridicule that will follow if anyone finds out about them. But when the peace rally is torn apart by police, and the girls face never seeing each other again, Jill makes a decision that will change their lives.
It’s hard to say which of these stories are my absolute favorites, but my top three out of this collection would probably be Pearls, by Beth Revis, The Legendary Garrett Girls by Y. S. Lee, and City of Angels, by Lindsay Smith.
If you’re looking for an awesome story collection featuring some really kick-ass girls as the main characters, this is a great read!
Note: I received an ARC copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.