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YA, Contemporary, 204 pages, Chronicle Books
- Series: stand-alone
- Pub date: December 29th 2011
- Disclosure: Received a copy in my giant ALAN box of books. Thanks!
What do guys and girls really think? Twelve of the most dynamic and engaging YA authors writing today team up for this one-of-a-kind collection of "he said/she said" stories-he tells it from the guy's point of view, she tells it from the girl's. These are stories of love and heartbreak. There's the good-looking jock who falls for a dangerous girl, and the flipside, the toxic girl who never learned to be loved; the basketball star and the artistic (and shorter) boy she never knew she wanted; the gay boy looking for love online and the girl who could help make it happen. Each story in this unforgettable collection teaches us that relationships are complicated-because there are two sides to every story.The Long...
I was pretty sure I knew what to expect going into this anthology. An awkward cover, an awkward tagline, and eleven romantic YA short stories, which don't tend to be my favorite thing. Thankfully, though, this book shattered every one of those expectations with fantastic writing, fantastic (and fantastically diverse) characters, and love stories way off the beaten path (that often were hardly love stories at all, but growing-up stories instead.)
If you don't know the gimmick of the collection, it's that each story is told twice, each time from a different perspective. Usually this works beautifully, but occasionally the difference in writing styles was jarring and odd. If you liked Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan, you'll probably love it; if not, Girl Meets Boy probably isn't for you.
To break it down story-by-story?
"Love or Something Like it" by Chris Crutcher: Easily one of my favorite stories of the collection. Everyman John Smith is everything I love in a guy protagonist, and his bittersweet attempts to be a better boyfriend (and a better guy) were a delight to read. Loved it.
"Some Things Never Change" by Kelly Milner Halls: Unfortunately, this flip side of John's story, told from the perspective of bad girl Wanda, wasn't quite what I was hoping for. As I wrote in my review of Everneath by Brodi Ashton, the bad girl is one of the most abused cliches in YA, and Halls didn't bring anything new to the table. Meh.
"Falling Down to See the Moon" by Joseph Bruchac: Another favorite. Beyond The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, I can't think of any other decent YA that features Native American characters, and Bruchac does a wonderful job of creating an awkward, dorky teen boy who's sort of in love with a girl who I couldn't help but fall in love with myself. Loved it.
"Mooning Over Broken Stars" by Cynthia Leitich Smith: I know Smith is a big name in YA, but I actually haven't read any of her other work. After this story, I'll have to--Nancy's story was the perfect flipside to Bobby's. Side note? Even though I'm not at all a sports fan in real life, I'm starting to realize that I love sports stories in YA. Go figure. Loved it.
"Want to Meet" by James Howe: In this story of a gay teen who thinks he's in love with one person...and finds someone else entirely, I cheered again for what a great job Kelly Milner Halls did at assembling a teen anthology that reflects the diversity of real live teens everywhere. So many YA stories gloss over "the gay issue" entirely, or create characters that are merely tokens instead of real-live-breathing-loving protagonists. The story itself wasn't anything special, but the characters were sweet and lovely and everything I was hoping for. Liked it.
"Meeting for Real" by Ellen Wittlinger: Again, not a particularly standout story on its own, but one of the more original and interesting flip-side concepts in the collection. Liked it.
"No Clue, AKA Sean" by Rita Williams-Garcia: So mother-freaking-fantastic, guys. Williams-Garcia is a goddess of YA, and this smart, sassy story of interracial love is one of the standouts of the collection. Raffina's voice is so pitch-perfect and hilarious, you can't help but love her. I would have loved to see this be a novel instead of just a short story. Loved it.
"Sean + Raffina" by Terry Trueman: It had to be tough to be on the other side of William-Garcia's kickassery, but Trueman actually does a decent job of giving us the other side of the story. I was cheering all the way, even if Sean's voice wasn't quite as awesome as Raffina's. Liked it.
"Mouths of the Ganges" by Terry Davis: Another one of the more memorable voices of the collection, about a Muslim teen Rafi (and his hormones, and his quest to get in his girlfriend's pants). I laughed out loud, I held my breath, I sympathized 100%. Right up there with Rita Williams-Garcia in spot-on awesomeness. Loved it.
"Mars at Night" by Rebecca Fjelland Davis: The WTF story of the collection. Kerry's voice wasn't relatable or likable at all, and her quest to stop the giant pig farm from being built in her small town was pure cheese. I lament the serious lack of Rafi-lovin'. Not for me.
"Launchpad to Neptune" by Sara Ryan and Randy Powell: Never, ever, ever did I see the twist coming, but when it came, I was so impressed by the sheer writing balls these writers had and how well they pulled it off that I couldn't imagine a better way to end the collection. Loved it.
...and the Short:
A fantastic anthology that belongs in every contemporary YA lover's collection. I can't wait to see what Kelly Milner Halls edits next, since she did such a wonderful job here!
The Final Word: Loved it.
PSSSST. This review is the first in today's review-a-thon, which will culminate tonight in a ten-book, ten-winner giveaway post that includes a chance to win a copy of Girl Meets Boy. Stay tuned, and don't forget to check back soon!