Tag Archives: Kindred

Kindred: 12 Queer #LoveOzYA Stories edited by Michael Earp

Overview
Image result for kindred 12 queer book cover

Title: Kindred: 12 Queer #LoveOzYA Stories
Author: Marlee Jane Ward, Erin Gough, Michael Earp, Jax Jacki Brown, Claire G Coleman, Nevo Zisin, Jen Wilde, Christos Tsiolkas, Ellen van Neerven, Omar Sakr, Alison Evans & Benjamin Law
In: Kindred (Michael Earp)
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Australian authors, Contemporary, LGBTQI, Short story collections
Dates read: 9th June – 17th July 2020
Pace: Medium
Format: Anthology
Publisher: Walker Books
Year: 2019
5th sentence, 74th page: His disbelief at the time that has slipped away is overwhelming.

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Synopsis

What does it mean to be queer? What does it mean to be human? In this powerful #OwnVoices collection, twelve of Australia’s finest writers from the LGBTQIA+ community explore the stories of family, friends, lvoer and strangers the connections that form us.

Thoughts

This is an amazing collection. A great taste of some of the amazing talent that Australia has to offer. And a unique theme – LGBTQI+. It’s definitely a theme that is slowly filling more and more of my shelves. But it’s one that I’m definitely actively hunting for more of. I now have all twelve of the authors in my collection on my wishlist…

Each and every one of the stories in this collection are thoughtful and intriguing. They ran the gamut of emotions – some had me in tears, others had me hooting with laughter. But, what they all had in common? They had a great, thought-provoking theme that drew me in from the very beginning.

This is my first #LoveOzYA collection. And when I bought this, I did buy a few others. Now, I am exceedingly grateful for the fact… I can’t wait to enjoy more of the beautiful Qussie work on my shelves!

<- Questions to Ask Straight RelativesRats ->

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Questions to Ask Straight Relatives by Benjamin Law

Overview
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Title: Questions to Ask Straight Relatives
Author: Benjamin Law
In: Kindred (Michael Earp)
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Australian authors, Contemporary, LGBTQI
Dates read: 17th July 2020
Pace: Medium
Format: Short story
Publisher: Walker Books
Year: 2019
5th sentence, 74th page: “Why?”

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Synopsis

Those questions that we all like to ask people who are a little bit “different”. Well, what if they start questioning things you think are normal? Maybe it isn’t as simple and normal as you thought it was…

Thoughts

I picked this up at a fantastic time. It was a short story that I read as I was reading my psych textbook – a chapter about gender and the assumptions that we make. So reading a short story which was more like an essay and focused on the assumptions we make about “normalcy”… it was just fantastic, karmic, worldly timing. That I thoroughly enjoyed.

Not only does Law’s writing force you to think about assumptions around gender and sexuality. But there are also many issues of race and culture that are bought up too. In a way that makes it completely obvious that Law himself is constantly battling these multitudes of identity throughout his life. It left me questioning all of the assumptions that I make. Well, about everything…

Not only am I completely in love with this short story. But it also rounded out the Kindred collection perfectly. The whole journey in this collection was about making you think more deeply about others, or at least, it was to me. But after reading this, it also made me question many of the assumptions in my own life…

<- StormlinesKindred ->

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An Arab Werewolf in Liverpool by Omar Sakr

Overview
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Title: An Arab Werewolf in Liverpool
Author: Omar Sakr
In: Kindred (Michael Earp)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Contemporary, LGBTQI, Werewolves
Dates read: 18th June 2020
Pace: Medium
Format: Short story
Publisher: Walker Books
Year: 2019
5th sentence, 74th page: He drifted to his knees, kissing Noah’s belly, driven by surging instinct to this, his own opening.

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Synopsis

He’s never really fit in in his family. And he’s never really fit in in his neighbourhood. But something is about to change as he grows into his true self and goes on the hunt…

Thoughts

I really liked this short story. Although, one of the things that I found kind of confusing about it was the fact that I seriously couldn’t tell whether or not the werewolf was a symbol or a fact. There were moments in which I completely believed that there was an Arab werewolf running free. And then other moments when I didn’t quite know what to believe…

I did like the confusion that the whole Arab werewolf lent to the story though. It echoed the confusion that the lead boy must’ve felt in his self as he realised his sexuality. And it highlighted the strains which must have been felt in his life – coming from a conservative culture and family, but being somewhat not conservative in his preferences.

Mostly, I just loved the imagery and the power of this story. It was brilliant, difficult to forget and seriously enjoyable. I loved this and I would be intrigued to see what other stories Omar Sakr has written…

<- Each CityStormlines ->

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Each City by Ellen van Neerven

Overview
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Title: Each City
Author: Ellen van Neerven
In: Kindred (Michael Earp)
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Australian authors, Indigenous Australians, LGBTQI, Music
Dates read: 13th June 2020
Pace: Slow
Format: Short story
Publisher: Walker Books
Year: 2019
5th sentence, 74th page: You’ll be like me.

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Synopsis

In a time and place not so different to our own, an Indigenous activist find that maybe her life and that of her lover are about to be irrevocably changed.

Thoughts

It turns out that I accidentally picked this up to read at a kind of perfect time – a time when the world is seriously starting to think (hopefully) about Black Lives Matter. So, reading a short story in which the focus in the lives and importance of equality and an acknowledgement of our privilege sat perfectly with me. Granted, this is in a world that is somewhat ahead of our time, and there are certain aspect which are both terrifying and intriguing. But definitely the perfect time for short stories like this to take centre stage.

This was a very powerful short story. It actually made me want to cry towards the end. I’m not entirely sure why, because it wasn’t as tragic as some of the other stories that I’ve read that have actually made me cry. It was powerful and intense. A reminder that it would be so easy to further marginalise those who are already living on the margins. And the traumas that this can inflict. Not just being part of a minority, but also the ways in which people can be governed due to this fact.

To further that feeling of wow and power that this short story lends, I found that the first person POV worked perfectly. It sunk you into the understanding and experiences of the narrative. You didn’t have to wonder about the feelings of marginalisation and fear that were being experienced – you experienced them alongside the narrative voice. Leaving you with this amazing, powerful and just… wow feeling once you turn that final page.

<- Laura Nyro at the WeddingAn Arab Werewolf in Liverpool ->

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Laura Nyro at the Wedding by Christos Tsiolkas

Overview
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Title: Laura Nyro at the Wedding
Author: Christos Tsiolkas
In: Kindred (Michael Earp)
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Contemporary, Contemporary romance, FamilyLGBTQI
Dates read: 3rd June 2020
Pace: Medium
Format: Short story
Publisher: Walker Books
Year: 2019
5th sentence, 74th page: We’re thinking somehwere in Mordialloc, maybe summer so we can get married on the beach.

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Synopsis

Pat and Jack want to get married. But it’s brining up all sorts of history for Jack… history concerning his Dad and the horrible things he did…

Thoughts

I found this short story really sweet. It starts with two men. Happy, in love and comfortable in each other’s presence. And then it begins to make you think. Think about things such as “what constitutes a marriage?” “what shows true love?” “when is forgiveness necessary, or even okay?”. All questions that I frequently ask myself, and were very well answered in this small literary journey.

Although this is a nice little romance, it is also very much about family and forgiveness. The horrors of the past can linger in our present, and this story focuses on the ways in which you can move on from that. The ways in which you can find a way to forgive the past, and move on towards a better future.

The ending really wasn’t what I expected. It was one in which the outcome was not anticipated, but definitely very much appreciated. I actually really enjoyed the way in which this ended – it was unexpected, but somehow made much more sense than the ending I was expecting.

<- WaitingEach City ->

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Waiting by Jen Wilde

Overview
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Title: Waiting
Author: Jen Wilde
In: Kindred (Michael Earp)
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Australian authors, Contemporary, LGBTQI
Dates read: 2nd June 2020
Pace: Fast
Format: Short story
Publisher: Walker Books
Year: 2019
5th sentence, 74th page: I feel myself sinking into my shell, like I always do around him.

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Synopsis

Waiting in line at a comi-con with her best friend, a young, bisexual girl starts to discover the true meaning of friendship and who she wants to be.

Thoughts

This was a bit of a first in the Kindred collection – it wasn’t a romance. The lead character was Neurodiverse and LGBTQI. But there was no romance. It wasn’t about finding a romantic connection at all for that matter. Rather, it was all about finding a friendship that works for you. And honestly, it seriously made me think about the friendships we find ourselves in. And what makes them healthy and good. And what makes them toxic.

Although this is an LGBTQI story, there isn’t a focus on that. Or, really, a Neurodiverse identity. Rather, it is about that moment when you find a new friend. A person that you can get along with and has similar interests. I love that there is a Brooklyn Nine-Nine reference and this whole story takes place in the line for comi-con.

All throughout this story, I absolutely hated the “best friend”. So I was super glad when the girl FINALLY decided to stand up for herself. It made me realise that maybe sometimes I should do the same…

<- Light BulbLaura Nyro at the Wedding ->

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Light Bulb by Nevo Zisin

Overview
Image result for kindred 12 queer book cover

Title: Light Bulb
Author: Nevo Zisin
In: Kindred (Michael Earp)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: LGBTQI, Mental health
Dates read: 24th May 2020
Pace: Fast
Format: Short story
Publisher: Walker Books
Year: 2019
5th sentence, 74th page: I started holding it in.

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Synopsis

Most people are afraid of the dark. But for some, it is the dark that welcomes them. That helps them feel the things that they’ve kept hidden inside.

Thoughts

I’ve never read a story about a gender-fluid person. Or someone who isn’t quite sure of their gender. Except for the Magnus Chase series – that has Alex who changes their gender identity according to their needs and drives. Which, of course, I loved. But, I digress. Alex’s experience is one that feels mostly positive. This story is a much darker and more heart-wrenching version of coming to terms with a gender identity that doesn’t fit into the binary expectations.

Reading a few horror stories lately meant that I was expecting something quite tragic at the beginning of this story. After all, it is a tale which starts with a child loving the dark. Not wanting to be in the light. And this constant imagery of a light bulb switching on and off. It makes for an incredibly dark beginning to the story. And a very symbolic imagery when you realise what is happening in the mind of the narrator.

Aside from the great symbolism, this story somehow really drove home the confusion and feeling of marginalisation that comes with being gender fluid, or not of a gender binary. This whole story had me on an intense and uncontrollable emotional roller coaster ride. One that made me feel so much sympathy for those who are in this situation…

<- SweetWaiting ->

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Sweet by Claire G Coleman

Overview
Image result for kindred 12 queer book cover

Title: Sweet
Author: Claire G Coleman
In: Kindred (Michael Earp)
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Australian authors, Gender, LGBTQI
Dates read: 22nd May 2020
Pace: Fast
Format: Short story
Publisher: Walker Books
Year: 2019
5th sentence, 74th page: No school could teach me what I needed to learn.

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Synopsis

In a world of no gender identity, what will happen when one girl figures out that she’s a she, not a they?

Thoughts

I’ve read a novel by Coleman not long ago. And what struck me most about her writing was the fact that she was able to take issues which are constantly occurring in our daily lives, flip them on our head and make you see things from a totally different perspective. The fact that she did that in this short story, all based around gender, made me literally clap my hands in joy.

I love that this is a world in which there is NO gender. It drives towards this idea that we have – that gender completely defines who we are. And that there are only two options; male or female. I may identify as a woman myself, but I don’t think that that completely defines me. Completely removing all identifications of gender throughout this story was a great stroke of brilliance. It made you think a little bit more about what makes a person a person, rather than how gender makes a person…

The other thing that removing all gender in this world did was remind us what prejudice against those who don’t fit into our schemes does. Instead of being attacked and hunted because the characters don’t fit a binary gender – they become attacked and hunted because they do. We’d like to think that this doesn’t happen anymore in today’s society. But that most certainly isn’t the case and this was a great reminder of that.

<- I Like Your RotationLight Bulb ->

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I Like Your Rotation by Jax Jacki Brown

Overview
Image result for kindred 12 queer book cover

Title: I Like Your Rotation
Author: Jax Jacki Brown
In: Kindred (Michael Earp)
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Contemporary, Contemporary romanceLGBTQI
Dates read: 12th May 2020
Pace: Fast
Format: Short story
Publisher: Walker Books
Year: 2019
5th sentence, 74th page: What if I could have a friend, like an actual cool friend?

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Synopsis

For this young girl just discovering herself, finding another LGBTQI+ girl who has the same disability as her is the best thing ever. But, then she has to contend with some unwanted emotions and experiences…

Thoughts

This year I’ve been steadily expanding my shelves to include more inclusive tales – neurodiverse, LGBTQI+, etc. What I realised on reading this is that I don’t have any good books about people in wheelchairs, amputees, etc. Definitely something that I want to improve on if anyone has any suggestions! But, this was a great start regardless…

The love interest in this story is seriously passionate, and more than willing to alienate people and argue for her rights. And so she should. I love that her point of view is very independent and organic, highlighting her needs and desires when that would sometimes not be so possible. It’s a great lesson for the friend that she makes within this story – that it’s okay to be difficult and emotional, you’re human and being in a wheelchair doesn’t mean that you can’t be. Or at least, that’s the big thing I got out of her character.

Although there isn’t that sweet, happily ever after ending to this story, it is still really, really good. There is a sense of finding oneself and discovering your own worth. Something that everyone needs to do, but, in the case of some people, like the protagonist of this short story, is a little bit more difficult. I imagine her wheeling off into her future and finding another happily ever after that she just wasn’t quite expecting.

<- Bitter DraughtSweet ->

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In Case of Emergency, Break Glass by Erin Gough

Overview
Image result for kindred 12 queer book cover

Title: In Case of Emergency, Break Glass
Author: Erin Gough
In: Kindred (Michael Earp)
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Contemporary, LGBTQI
Dates read: 20th April 2020
Pace: Medium
Format: Short story
Publisher: Walker Books
Year: 2019
5th sentence, 74th page: She gazes at Reg, and Reg gazes back, and the force of her gaze makes Amy’s chest heave.

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Synopsis

Amy can’t figure out why she just doesn’t feel… anything when she kisses her boyfriend. And then a fateful meeting on the job changes everything.

Thoughts

This was a nice, easy little read. One about discovering just what it is that makes you tick. Without being completely swept away in other, political, slightly more intense agendas. I love that it begins with Amy not quite understanding why Sam doesn’t make her excited by his kisses. And then ends with her finally finding someone who does. There is no real epiphany moment of being an LGBTQI+ person, but just a moment of, wow. So that’s what it should be like.

The combination of a young girl discovering her sexuality with the rebellious nature of Reg (the love interest) is kind of fun. There is great imagery of birds soaring free, doing what’s right even if it costs you your job… so many courageous moments that work so beautifully in this coming of age story. It’s not just about finding out who you are, it’s also about finding what you stand for. Which started to take centre stage a little for me.

I absolutely adored this short story. And I can’t wait to read more in this collection. I am also intrigued as to the amazing stories I’m sure Gough has the ability to construct… so I’ll probably try and hunt them out too.

<- RatsBitter Draught ->

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