Color Outside the Lines: Stories About Love

Soho Teen. Nov. 2019. 312p. ed. by Mandanna, Sangu. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781641290463.
Gr 8 Up–This anthology of short stories about love will attract readers from all walks of life. The stark differences among those experiencing romantic feelings are explored in how they can get in the way, or not, of love. The book’s strength relies on the ethnic, cultural, and religious range the main characters represent, and the variety of scenarios they find themselves in. Different genres are explored, including historical, supernatural, fantasy, magical realism, and realistic fiction, which keeps the stories unique and the book easy to read. The selections feature a Jewish girl who befriends an Indian boy after they are both bullied by the same girl, an adopted boy of color raised in a white household navigating who he is on the outside and on the inside, and a Chinese American girl who is tired of boys with “yellow fever.” It’s surprising that the only thing lacking is more LGBTQ+ content, as most of the love represented is heteronormative. However, the honest portrayal of love will appeal to young readers. Not all characters dive into a passionate romance, the kind teens might have seen in movies, as some authors describe falling in love in a gentle, sometimes painful way. Unrequited love makes a brief appearance, but it cements the message that all kinds of love and feelings are normal, including heartache.
VERDICT A first purchase for libraries supporting or in need of diverse books.

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