Review Blog

Oct 28 2019

Kindred: 12 Queer #LoveOzYA stories edited by Michael Earp

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Walker Books, 2019. ISBN: 9781760651039.
(Age: 12+) Highly recommended. Themes: LGBTQ, Queer stories, Short stories. Using the word 'Kindred' as the title for this enticingly readable dozen stories by young adult writers from the queer community will have readers enthralled. The word 'kindred' has so many layers of meaning: placing all sorts of people next to, alongside and with each other, responding to their needs and wants, sharing, giving and supporting.
Each of these stories was selected to show connection, their writers part of the LGBTIQ+ community, and reflect people from First Nations, people of colour and disabilities, people of various sexualities, genders and identities. The twelve stories are about connection, sharing a kindred spirit, of diversity, and each is as fresh as the sea breeze, alerting the readers to something being offered that outpaces other books of short stories.
I loved reading 'Rats' (Marlee Janes Ward) with its dystopian setting grounded in a tale of connection. And set in Melbourne gave it a hair on the back of your neck feeling of recognition all the way through. And I loved 'Laura Nyro at the wedding' (Christos Tsiolkas), with its confronting themes, as Jack wants his estranged father to attend his wedding. He tries to contact him; a man jailed for sex with a fifteen year old, years before. But the effect on his family makes everyone ask questions. Some reviewers have suggested this story is out of place in a book for teens but the tale raises issues teens come across. And 'I like your rotation' (Jax Jacki Brown) tells an involving story from a disabled perspective. Benjamin Law rounds off the book with his insightful 'Questions to ask straight relatives', and the book has several pages of further resources for queer teens, and potted bios of each of the contributors.
It is so important for people to see themselves represented in literature, to know they're not alone, to know that others share their journey, and equally important for others to be able to read of people seemingly different but not so different from themselves, and so encourage empathy, understanding and connection, and this book offers connections not often seen in mainstream books for teens. And so it has a place in school and public libraries where teens gather to read relevant stories. Teacher's notes are available.
Fran Knight

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