Hi everyone! It was a bit of a struggle to get this review up today as my mental health is going down the actual toilet, but here we are!
Did you know that government spies can turn on your phone and use the microphone to listen to your conversations? That lesbian and gay relationships are illegal in 78 countries and can be punished by death? That Amnesty recently recorded the highest number of executions globally for more than 25 years?
Through short stories and poetry, twenty-five leading authors and illustrators explore the top human rights issues facing young people today.
Now is the time to take a stand and make a difference.
Full list of contributors: Tony Birch, John Boyne, Sita Brahmachari, Kevin Brooks, Kate Charlesworth, Sarah Crossan, Neil Gaiman, Jack Gantos, Ryan Gattis, Matt Haig, Frances Hardinge, Jackie Kay, AL Kennedy, Liz Kessler, Elizabeth Laird, Amy Leon, Sabrina Mahfouz, Chelsea Manning, Chibundu Onuzo, Bali Rai, Chris Riddell, Mary and Bryan Talbot, Christie Watson and Tim Wynne-Jones.
This was an extremely powerful and worthwhile read. I’m really glad that I finally decided to pick this one up. Anthologies will always be a mixed bag, with some hits and some misses, but this one was incredibly strong with the majority of stories feeling high quality and conveying valuable messages. I would normally only rate an anthology at 3 or 3.5 stars due to the varied mix of styles but this one is a solid 4 minimum.
I’m not going to talk about every story but I’ll mention a few that stood out for me.
The collection begins with Harvester Road by John Boyne, a really powerful opening story that got me feeling all of the emotions straightaway. It explores various instances of child abuse all occurring in the same street and the ways in which adults try to ‘justify’ their actions. I was honestly appalled. This one really does pack a punch. I’d definitely be interested in reading more John Boyne after this.
Then we get Dulce et Decorum est by Chibundu Onuzo, which was a frustrating but fascinating take on the subject of child soldiers. I thought the matter-of-fact tone worked very well for this story.
Matt Haig’s The Invention of Peanut Butter was great and had a very clever message. I loved that it read like a folktalke. Stay Home by Sita Brahmachari was a moving look at role reversal when a child has to care for a parent due to mental health issues. I found this one very poignant and nicely written.
Redemption by Ryan Gattis was truly fascinating and I thought the author’s concept of a better prison system was unique and interesting. And Sludge by Sarah Crossan lulled me into a false sense of security with its lovely writing style and then completely ripped out my heart.
Then comes Bystander by Frances Hardinge. This story was utterly heartbreaking and reminded me of my time in Uganda, where I met a little girl with Down’s Syndrome. Though I didn’t witness anything, I suspected that she was being mistreated – and it was all because the elders in her culture thought she was possessed. Thankfully, there were people getting involved to educate these adults so something was being done to prevent the abuse – but I just wanted to scoop that little girl up and bring her home with me. It’s so sad knowing things like this go on in certain cultures.
There were a few other stories in the anthology, some which I didn’t like as much and some for which I don’t have a whole lot to say. The final story I want to mention is Harmless Joe by Tony Birch, another of my favourites in the collection. This one was really nicely written with a lovely message, and I loved the touch of magical realism.
Overall, this was a very heavy read but one which is so important and that I recommend to everybody.
Have you read this one? What are some of your favourite anthologies? Let me know in the comments! x