Proud is a young adult anthology edited by Juno Dawson. I was kindly sent an ARC via Netgalley. All views are my own.
A stirring, bold and moving anthology of stories and poetry by top LGBTQ+ YA authors and new talent, giving their unique responses to the broad theme of pride. Each story has an illustration by an artist identifying as part of the LGBTQ+ community. Compiled by Juno Dawson, author of THIS BOOK IS GAY and CLEAN.
A celebration of LGBTQ+ talent, PROUD is a thought-provoking, funny, emotional read.
So Proud has been on my radar for probably over a year now, making it one of my most highly anticipated books of 2019. It’s everything I love – queer, young adult, short stories. That made me a bit anxious, because I knew that I had really high hopes for it. But I am very happy to say that I did not disappoint!
There are a couple of things that I particularly love about this collection. First of all, all of the authors AND illustrators identify as part of the LGBTQIA+ community. How awesome is that?! Also, there were four stories by previously unknown authors – Karen Lawler, Michael Lee Richardson, Cynthia So and Kay Staples. I loved that they didn’t just stick with well-known authors (though there were some, such as David Levithan and Simon James Green). It also turned out that Karen Lawler and Cynthia So wrote two of my favourite stories!
“Since the dawn of time, we have been told in a litany of ways that we are ‘less-than’, ‘out of the ordinary’, ‘abnormal’, ‘subnormal’, or plain ‘different’. We are none of these things. We are gloriously ourselves, and we show the world our glory during Pride.”
Some of my favourite stories included:
I Hate Darcy Pemberley by Karen Lawler – a lesbian retelling of Pride and Prejudice. I hadn’t read a retelling of Pride and Prejudice before, and I was HERE FOR THIS.
The Phoenix’s Fault by Cynthia So – a fantasy story based on Asian culture where phoenixes and dragons are real. The Emperor has declared that all women with a phoenix must be presented before him, but one girl has eyes for someone else…
Penguins by Simon James Green – a gay boy’s coming out is ruined by gay penguins
Almost Certain by Tanya Byrne – a queer girl who struggles with mental health bonds with a queer musician through music and grief
Unfortunately because it was a Netgalley copy, some of the illustrations weren’t quite in their full glory. However, I’m sure that they will be beautiful in the finished edition. Alice Oseman was one of the illustrators, so that was really cool too.
However, there were some areas that could have improved, in my opinion. There weren’t any stories with asexual or aromantic characters, which was a real shame. I also thought it could have been really interesting and powerful to have a story that explores the difference between orientations, such as bisexual or pansexual, or bisexual and biromantic. Also, I think the stories could have been more intersectional. All but The Phoenix’s Fault had Western settings, and there was only one story which touched on mental health.
Having said that, I love this book with my entire heart, and I’m so happy that it is paving the way for more YA books about queer people.