How We Began (Ele’s review)

Title: How We Began
Author: Alexis Hall, Delphine Dryden, Vanessa North, Amy Jo Cousins, Annabeth Albert, Geonn Cannon and Edie Danford (Editor)
Publisher: Pink Kayak Press
Release Date: November 9th 2015
Genre(s): Contemporary, YA, Futuristic, Sci-fi
Page Count: 297
Reviewed by: Ele
Heat Level: 0 flames out of 5
Rating: 4.25 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.

All of the proceeds from this volume will benefit The Trevor Project, the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to LGBTQ+ young people ages thirteen to twenty-four.

The cause alone is more than enough to buy this book. And if you ‘re a YA lover, all the better.

Each story is different and unique, and explores the beginning of a relationship. I particularly liked the authors’ notes before each story, that explain to the reader his/her purpose of writing it.

TruNorth , by Alexis Hall
*3.5 stars*

This is a sad but hopeful story that touches on many sensitive topics, some of them common, some of them not so much. It is about gender identity, about society’s insistence to put a label on you and about the pressure to fulfill other people’s expectations.

We also get a glimpse in the world of a boy band. What looks all shiny and dreamy on the outside, can be pretty destructive to a young person’s heart and spirit.

I found the ending to be abrupt, although I realise the purpose was to show that when you ‘re young, the present and the decisions you make matter, they ‘re not just a means to an end. I think the story fulfilled this purpose.

Unexpected Dragons , by Delphine Dryden
*2.5 stars*

I can’t put my finger on why I didn’t like this one. It was sweet and the dragons were kind of cute.

I think it’s because A)I couldn’t connect with the MC and B)I felt that parts of this story, the ones that had a message to convey, were written like a fairy tale that was meant to teach a little kid something. I don’t know if that makes any sense, but this is how the writing seemed to me.

A Song for Sweater Boy , by Vanessa North
*5+ stars*

This was my favorite story of the anthology, for many reasons.

First and foremost, because of the accurate portrayal of the autistic protagonist. Vanessa knows what she’s talking about. Jaimie (aka Sweater boy) stole my heart.

Second, because I loved Ash, an honest to God bisexual MC, who was incredibly well sketched. Bisexuals are not unicorns.

Third, the two of them might be schoolmates, but they get to know each other better through a prison-knitting program. How cool is this? They become friends and eventually boyfriends.

The dual POV worked great. In a few pages we got to know both Jaimie and Ash pretty well. And there is an epilogue too! I’d love to see more of them in the future, but if I don’t, I feel perfectly satisfied with this epilogue.

There is knitting, romance, the sweetest kisses and a special song written for Sweater Boy. But most importantly, there is this message:

“Nobody has it all together. Not the kid with perfect grades or the one whose band is about to go viral on YouTube any minute now. They’re all in the mess too.[…]

Your mess is part of what makes you special.

A Taste of Coffee and Cream , by Amy Jo Cousins.
*4 stars*

Except for the final scene, this is not a romantic story. BUT it is the best story with a transgender character I ‘ve ever read, so 4 stars for this.

Although I’m not a fan of it, I found the third-person, present tense narration to be a brilliant choice. I felt that the author “forced” me to take a step back and watch Jude closely. Experience her day to day battles, her trips to another city that allowed her to be who she really is, her struggles and the feeling of not belonging in your own family.

There is resolution and the story ends on a very hopeful note. Weather it is realistic, I genuinly don’t know (it definately isn’t where I live). But I really hope with all my heart that it is.

First in line , by Annabeth Albert
*4 stars*

This was lovely. A pretty light story about the transition from life at home to life in college. If you like Annabeth Albert’s writing style, you ‘ll like this one too.

It is mostly a coming out story, which is easier for some than for others. I liked the opposites-attract theme, the shy and reserved Etheniel and the out and proud Nesto.

It is set in Cathia College for those of you that have read the Campus Cravings anthology, and some characters from the author’s story, Winning Bracket, make an appearance.

Extinction Level Events , by Geonn Cannon
*3.5 stars*

This was a very sweet F/F story. It is about Cassandra’s decision to come out to her family and best friend before leaving for college. It lacked in the romance department but I liked that everything went well.

There are stories where everything works out in the end and there is aceptance and love. This is one of them.

I highly recommend this anthology. Even if you don’t like YA. Even if you ‘re not a fan of all the authors and even if you don’t plan on reading all stories. Because the cause is everything!


Buy Link GoodReads Edie Danford Alexis Hall Delphine Dryden

Vanessa North Amy Jo Cousins Annabeth Albert Geonn Cannon

Advanced Review Copy

Copy generously provided by Pink Kayak Press in exchange for an honest review.


Mother, wife, teacher and READER. I read MM almost exclusively. My kindle is my best friend and the most important thing in my life after my son. My poor husband... I read MM romance almost exclusively. As a reader I don't have any hard limits except incest. I like Contemporary and Historicals and I rarely read Paranormal unless recommended...