delicate eternity logo
A haven for lovers of the written word
separate post

What: Kindred edited by Michael Earp

Who: Walker Books Australia

When: June 1st 2019

How: A copy of this novel was provided by Walker Books Australia for review.

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

Compelling queer short fiction by bestsellers, award winners and newcomers to the #LoveOzYA community including Jax Jacki Brown, Claire G Coleman, Michael Earp, Alison Evans, Erin Gough, Benjamin Law, Omar Sakr, Christos Tsiolkas, Ellen van Neerven, Marlee Jane Ward, Jen Wilde and Nevo Zisin.

Kindred was something I’d been excited about since I learned it was going to exist. There is a general lack of queer fiction in the Australian YA world, and to see 12 queer authors writing #ownvoices (or at least #ownvoices adjacent) stories in one anthology is incredible. And yet. I wasn’t a huge fan. I ended up giving this two stars because I honestly felt like giving it two stars, and then when I did an average of my ratings for each individual story it was 2.4, which rounds down to two. Now, rather than review every single story, I’ve got three reasons why I felt Kindred was a two star read for me.

1) There was no consistent theme

To me, the cover screams contemporary. There is absolutely nothing about the cover that made me think there would be anything but contemporary stories in this anthology. The blurb also did not indicate that there were going to be range of genres in the anthology. The marketing didn’t, either. For me, I went into Kindred expecting a contemporary Australian anthology and I didn’t get that. I was confused when the first story seemed to be some kind of dystopian. It took me a while to wrap my head around it, and then every other story jumped around in genre, as well.

This is a ‘me’ thing, as I did go in expecting one thing and never could acclimate to Kindred being another thing. But I still think that the lack of cohesion to the stories wasn’t great. I think they could have been broken up into sections depending on genre. That would have made a lot more sense than it jumping around everywhere.

2) Not all the stories were YA

Look, when your title literally says #LoveOzYA in it… you’d better be YA. And yet three stories weren’t YA. There were two stories about characters in their twenties, which are definitely in the NA age range, and then there was a memoir at the end that wasn’t fiction or YA. I honestly think that a YA anthology should be, well, YA only.

3) Two of the stories were problematic

Two stories in this anthology were inherently problematic, meaning that they were problematic at their core. The first problematic story used reverse oppression as an education tool. I feel like this was not necessary in an anthology meant for queer teens. Yes, everyone always has something to learn, but this story felt like it was meant for an entirely non-queer audience, or, at the very best, uneducated cis people. Either way, I don’t think it had a place in this anthology because of the young readers that could be harmed by seeing themselves as oppressors when in the real world they are the oppressed.

The second story (which also features a non-YA protagonist) features a character with a father who went to prison for having sex with his high school student. This paedophilia was never addressed. Even if the character himself had no issue with it, I still think it needed to be addressed by someone else in the context of the teenage girl whose teacher abused his position of power. I was very uncomfortable with this story being included because of that issue of ambivalence.

~

In addition to what I’ve mentioned there were positives to the anthology, like the range of queer identities in the stories, and the intersectional diversity. I did actually enjoy the majority of the stories, but the two I mentioned above really impeded my enjoyment overall. I can’t say whether or not I would give my stamp of approval to Kindred. I think it’s one that I’ll let you make a decision on because for me it was overall a miss.

© 2019, Chiara @ Books for a Delicate Eternity. All rights reserved.

trigger warning

paedophilia (student/teacher relationship), queerphobia, racism, ableism, reference to suicide of sibling, bullying, use of ableist language, suicidal ideation, depression themes (please note this is not a complete list, there were too many to list as I went along, but these are major ones that stood out to me)

Tagged with: / /
separate post
Posted on: July 15, 2019 • By: Chiara

8 Responses to Review: Kindred: 12 Queer #LoveOzYA Stories

  1. Star says:

    I completely agree with everything you’ve said in this post, Chiara.
    When you break it down like that, a quarter of the stories were not YA/fiction. A whole quarter. That’s three stories that could have been given to other YA #OwnVoices authors. And if you take out the disgusting reverse-oppression story, that makes an entire third of the book that really could have been done better, and to be better suited to YA that people could love and enjoy and see themselves positively in.

    • Chiara says:

      I hadn’t thought if it like that, and now that you bring it up… that’s a lot of the book that could have really been improved. It was such a disappointment to come across those stories in this anthology as I think it really had the potential to be something incredible.

  2. Damn, I became so excited seeing the cover + reading the blurb, but I’ll probably give this a pass after your review. It’s always annoying when stories in an anthology don’t seem to fit together, and it’s doubly weird that two of the stories weren’t YA… in a YA anthology. Sad the problematic content/stories made it into the anthology – it’d probably still be worth it to give this a chance were it not for them. Fantastic review!

    • Chiara says:

      There are still really good stories in there! So it might be worth a go if you want to skip the others, haha. Yeah, I wasn’t a fan of the non-YA stories or the problematic ones and they just really hindered my enjoyment, unfortunately. Thanks, Veronika!

  3. Yeahh…I don’t think I’d really care for this either, which is unfortunate. That’s so weird they weren’t all YA stories. I would have definitely thought they would be. And the two problematic stories you mentioned are definitely problematic. Yikes!

    -Lauren

    • Chiara says:

      Yeah I was quite shocked to see non-YA stories included! I think they were the author’s choices, as the ones that did it have never written YA before… I would have preferred to see new YA voices than “known” non-YA voices! And yeah, the problematic stories really didn’t gel with me at all.

  4. Sarah Says says:

    Yep! You hit the nail on the head and covered all the problems i had with this book.
    It really is such a shame, some of the stories were fantastic, if only it’d been consistent and actually stuck to a YA appropriate and queer positive format.

    • Chiara says:

      Yeah, even though the majority were good/okay stories I just couldn’t get over the ones that were problematic/not for the audience. It pains me to say because I honestly thought this would be the perfect book for me!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: