Thank you to the publisher who gifted me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Proud is a bold, moving and heart-warming anthology of stories and poetry by top LGBTQ+ YA authors as well as some new talented authors. Each of the stories in this anthology has an illustration by an artist identifying as part of the LGBTQ+ community. This anthology has been complied by Juno Dawson the author of Clean and This Book is Gay.
I haven’t read many anthologies, but I have read a quite a few. I seemed to remember anthologies being a selection of excellent stories, mixed in with some alright stories. Proud is not like this at all, all the stories and poetry in this are outstanding and will not let you down at all! This collection is made up of 25 LGBTQ+ writers and illustrators and champions in being an Own Voices book! Although I am not a part of the LGBTQ+ community myself, I think I am one of the “friendly allies” that Juno Dawson mention at the start of this anthology. Therefore, I would love to share this book with more people and make is accessible to even more people!
I’m going to share a few thoughts I had about the different stories and poetry in Proud!
Dive Bar by Caroline Bird – Now I’m not a big fan of poetry but I read this one a couple of times. I didn’t really understand it the first time round but the second time around I enjoyed it. I think this one deserves more than one read through specially to make you understand it a little more.
Penguins by Simon James Green – I loved this story! Penguins is such a funny, heart-warming and cute story all about the struggles of coming out and finding the right time to do so. This story made me laugh and warmed my heart. Also, it has penguins, cute gay penguins! It features a male/male romance.
On the Run by Kay Staples – This is one of my favourite short stories in this anthology. It is a warm, tender story about two tens who have just won the lottery and run away from home. One of the teens is escaping an abusive family and the other is following the guy they love. This book has excellent working-class characters, a non-binary teen and a wonderful non-binary/male romance.
The Phoenix Fault by Cynthia So – This is a wonderful little fantasy story about two girl who realise they love one another. It also involves Phoenix’s and wonderful easy to understand fantast aspects. It features a female/female romance.
As the Philadelphia Queer Youth Choir Sings Katy Perry’s ‘Firework’ by David Levithan – The format of this story is quite different to all the other stories in this anthology. It is confusing at first, but I ended up being a fan of this style. Another wonderful story that involves a choir!
Almost Certain by Tanya Bryne – I was a big fan of this, it is a tender and sad story about grief and anxiety as well as art. It has a lovely female/female romance throughout this story. I was a big fan of how anxiety was described in this story, Tanya is an excellent writer.
The Other Team by Michael Lee Richardson – This is possibly my favourite story in this anthology. It tells the story of a trans boy and the discrimination and mis-gendering he faces whilst playing for a teen football group. It also shows the love and support that the football team show him for being trans and an excellent footballer.
I Hate Darcy Pemberley by Karen Lawler – This story has the enemies to lovers trope! It is a female/female Pride and Prejudice retelling that is funny, entertaining and heart-warming. I enjoyed this story a lot!
The Courage of Dragons by Fox Benwell – This is a lovely little geeky story about a non-binary teen and their friends. It features a dungeons and dragons group, which I’ll be honest in saying I didn’t really understand. This didn’t put me off the story though as the group of friends are on a quest to make their school gender neutral which I thought was excellent!
The Instructor by Jess Vallance – This is such a fun, hilarious, vibrant and heart-warming story about a girl who is learning to drive. This story is packed full of humour and features a female/female romance. This is another contender for my favourite story in this anthology!
Love Poems to the City by MoÏre Fowley-Doyle – This is yet another excellent one! It is a beautiful story all about a bisexual girl in Ireland who is fighting for marriage equality. It also features a female/female romance.
How to Come Out as Gay by Dean Atta – This is just a nice, simple, supportive and beautiful poem all about coming out!
This anthology is excellent and needs to be placed in the hands of so many teenagers who are trying to figure themselves out. I feel like this will be a huge help to anyone confused about how they are! I hope in the future that Stripes publishing release more anthologies about other topics that are important in YA at the minute! Also, if there could be another Proud anthology, I would be picking it up!
Overall, Proud is such an excellent, accessible and beautiful anthology that celebrates being a part of LGBTQ+ community. All the illustrations in this anthology add to the stories and each one of the stories are spectacular and wonderful in their own rights. I will be recommending this book to a lot of people!