Thank you, NetGalley and Stripes Publishing for the chance to read this ebook for free in exchange for an honest review.
Proud is an anthology of stories and poetry by top LGBT+ YA authors, new authors and illustrators, giving their views on the many different ways to feel proud of who they are, covering a wide range of experiences. This book was composed by Juno Dawson with the following contributors: Steve Antony, Dean Atta, Kate Alizadeh, Fox Benwell, Alex Bertie, Caroline Bird, Fatti Burke, Tanya Byrne, Moïra Fowley-Doyle, Frank Duffy, Simon James Green, Leo Greenfield, Saffa Khan, Karen Lawler, David Levithan, Priyanka Meenakshi, Alice Oseman, Michael Lee Richardson, David Roberts, Cynthia So, Kay Staples, Jessica Vallance, Kristen Van Dam and Kameron White.
I was at YALC last year when Juno and the Stripes team unveiled Proud and I was beyond excited (Also totally Fangirled at Juno #Noshame). So, when it came available to request on NetGalley I could hit the request button any quicker.
Juno delivers a wonderful foreword and introduction, that is a stark reminder of how far things have come in 30 years. The introduction also gives us as the read a reminder of the challenges still faced including the fact that some LGBT+ authors and stories have their books banned. This anthology contains twelve short stories and each of this story has an illustration created especially for it. This collection is heart-warming, engaging, powerful and personal, and explore parts of the LGBT+ community. The hard work put into this book is clear and everyone has done a brilliant job.
The stories span different genres from humorous tales of gay penguins to fantasy stories of phoenixes who dare to be different. Each story focuses on different characters of different orientations, as they figure out what it means to be a queer teen in today's society. There are gay, bi, lesbian, trans, queer, and questioning characters, and it was so easy to relate and invest in every single one of them. We have characters from all kinds of backgrounds and interests from people living in council blocks to D&D nerds living out magical fantasies at school. Some stories are about coming out, some are about finding acceptance, and some are about finding friendship and romance. There are jocks, nerds, people of colour, lottery winners, people who get wrapped up in peacock wrangling and shock horror queer people are people and can be anything. The whole collection is so uplifting and important.
If you get a chance to read a copy of this beautiful anthology please do. The introduction felt like a call to action, to encourage and support all of the wonderful LGBT+ authors and writers. I can't put into words how empowering this book is. I came across writers that I have previously read and came across some brand-new authors and I now have more books added to the mountain of a TBR list. This collection is wonderful and I loved it so much.