Title: How We Began
Author: Alexis Hall, Delphine Dryden, Vanessa North, Amy Jo Cousins, Annabeth Albert, Geonn Cannon
Publisher: Pink Kayak Press
Release Date: November 9th 2015
Genre(s): YA Romance
Page Count: 297 pages
Reviewed by: Lili
Heat Level: 1 flame out of 5
Rating: 5 stars out of 5
How does love begin?
A glance, a gesture, an unexpected offer of help from a stranger…or from a good friend. A smile across a counter at a coffee shop or video store. A secret revealed in a song from another place and time. Or in a love ballad crooned at a high school dance.
In this anthology of never-before-published sweet LGBTQ+ stories, six authors explore the beginnings of love between young and new adult couples. All proceeds will support The Trevor Project’s work with crisis intervention and suicide prevention for LGBTQ+ youth.
I’m normally not a big anthology reader I’m always hesitant to read them because I’m afraid the length of the stories will be too short leaving wanting more. This one I wanted to read for two reasons:
1. 100% of the proceeds will support The Trevor Project. A group that works with youth in crisis and suicide prevention.
2. The authors involved with the project.
I’ll be honest, not all of the stories worked for me so I will only focus on the ones that did.
TruNorth by Alexis Hall
He’s the nice one. Everybody’s third or fourth favourite. His name is Noah and his job is to be young and free, wild but not too wild, exciting but safe. He has everything he’s ever wanted, and he’s beginning to think it sucks.
When TruNorth play New Berlin, he follows his bandmate Callum (the quiet one, the one the shy girls go for) into the old city. To a club where everything is possible and everything is true.
Beautiful writing. The author managed to pull us into their world. It’s about finding yourself and your place in life. It was very nicely written.
A Taste of Coffee and Cream by Amy Jo Cousins
Jude lives for Saturdays, when she can hop a bus and escape to wander the streets of a town where no one knows her, reveling in the freedom to be her true self. She isn’t interested in making friends, but some people become friends whether you invite them to or not.
Owen works the counter at the coffee shop where Jude changes clothes and she thinks maybe he knows things she usually keeps hidden. When he reveals her secret to someone else, Jude will have to decide if she can hang onto enough trust to let her take the biggest risk of all…
Although I did struggle a bit with the writing style Jude’s journey swept me away. Amy Jo Cousins managed to make her pain real and it made me want to hug her and tell her it would get better. And Owen and his mother- I just loved them.
First In Line by Annabeth Albert
When new Cathia College freshman, Ethaniel Rhodes arrives on campus, he’s determined to finally be true to himself, but getting the courage to follow through with his plan proves harder than he thought. Unexpected allies, new friends, and an intriguing upperclassman all complicate his first days on campus. Ultimately, however, only Ethaniel can decide whether the time is right to take a leap of faith.
It was a nice easy read- Just wished it could’ve been longer so the story would’ve been a bit more developed. Still enjoyable, though.
My favorite story from the anthology:
Vanessa North’s A Song for Sweater-boy
Ash Cooper has made a mess—an angry prank turned into a criminal mischief charge and now he’s on probation. Jamie Allen has a talent for pattern recognition, but he’s not so great with people—how can someone as well-liked as Ash Cooper not have all the answers? An unlikely friendship springs up between them as they navigate senior year, a probation sentence, and—oh god- homecoming.
This story was absolutely wonderful. Vanessa North did a fantastic job depicting Jamie’s autism. I just loved the way she developed Jamie and Ash’s relationship. I found myself moved by their love and loyalty to each other and their loved ones. It was an exquisite short story that really managed to move me. Amazing writing.
I am going to rate this 5 Stars. It’s for a great cause and I love that it was geared towards a YA audience. Our youth need our love, support, and understanding- to know that there are people in their corner and all these stories do just that.