I was lucky enough to receive a copy of Proud from Charlie at Stripes Publishing. I know she wasn't expecting a review, but the book is just too good not to tell you all about it. Due to be published in March, it is brimming with a colourful array of stories and poems, representing every aspect of the LGBT community.
Just looking at the cover, makes me happy! It's colourful, bright and I have to say - PROUD! Every story, poem or illustration is a positive representation of LGBT, brimming with love, friendship and acceptance. The illustrations complement the stories and poems they are matched with. My personal favourite is Alice Oseman's illustration for Simon James Green's Penguins.
I've read it from cover to cover and loved every word of it. So with great difficulty, I'm going to pick out my five favourite parts of the book,(these are in no particular order as I love them equally) which gives you five bloody good reasons why you should read this book.
1) Penguins by Simon James Green
I loved Cam from the first line. His desperate attempt to finally announce to his parents he is gay, is thwarted by the media frenzy surrounding two male penguins from the local zoo who have fallen in love. You want to hug Cam and tell him everything will be fine, as he gets worked up over how he feels and how he can just get the information out there. This story is funny yet heartwarming. I'm amazed how attached I came to the characters when I only spent a short time with them. A true testament to the writing talent of Mr Green!
2) The Courage of Dragons by Fox Benwell
Schools could learn a lot from this story. Gender neutrality is something that seriously needs to be considered. The main characters in the story are strong Dungeons and Dragons fans, I believe, and call themselves by names used in the game. ( I'm guessing this part, as I've never played). Bor is ready to identify as male, with everyone calling him by his new name and referring to him using male pronouns. Within this school, he is the first transgender student, and you quickly realise the people may be prepared to embrace the change, but the school itself isn't quite ready. Bor and his companions embark on a Breakfast Club style escapade during prom, which has you punching the air at the end.
3) The Instructor by Jess Valance
Now this one made me really laugh. When Lucy's dad decides to help her out when she needs driving lessons, she really didn't expect to encounter someone quite like Patricia! She is one of those characters that could have her own TV show. This story is filled with first love nerves, but with added humour. An utter delight to read.
4) Almost Certain by Tanya Byrne
I've been a long time fan of Tanya's, so this story was a hit with me straight away. However, what I wasn't expecting it to do, was swiftly transport me back to my teenage years. Trafalgar Records made me feel eighteen years old again, miserable, trying to navigate life and finding solace only in music at Trumps Records. I could see so much of myself in the main character. Those testing times in between being a teenager and a grown up, where you have no idea what you want to do with your life are captured perfectly in this story.
5) On the Run by Kay Staples
Kay is one of the four new authors discovered for the compilation. I have to say all four of the author's stories were exceptional and seamlessly blended in with the experienced authors. So hats off to all of them. However Kay's story really stood out for me. The love and trust between these two unlikely characters was heartwarming and joyous. I loved how Dean's only real care is Nicky's happiness. There is no rush for Nicky to decide how he wants to spend the rest of his life. I can't wait to see what Kay goes on to write next.
Hopefully this has made you want to read the book. It is phenomenal and one I would definitely recommend. Well done to Stripes, Juno and all the authors for putting this breakthrough book together.