19 Love Songs

Knopf. Jan. 2020. 320p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781984848635.
Gr 9 Up–Every year for Valentine’s Day, Levithan writes a short story for his friends. Set up like a mixtape carefully crafted for a new crush, this is a collection of those stories, as well as tie-ins to his novels, told in 19 tracks that explore the love of friends, families, and relationships. One selection chronicles a mother’s love for her child and how it can infiltrate the details of memories, while another tackles the secrets kept in relationships and how they can bring a couple closer together. There are stories about Taylor Swift fandom, the Women’s March, 1972 gold medalist Mark Spitz, and librarians. Told in Levithan’s signature prose-driven style, this book encompasses the anticipation of new crushes, first love, and first—and second, and third—kisses. LGBT teens who often feel erased within the YA landscape will feel seen, as love of all kinds is represented: trans, gay, lesbian, as well as the love people have for words and for a community. Several stories are autobiographical, and they are honest, relatable, and will resonate with readers. Like a good mixtape, this book builds, flows, and transports readers.
VERDICT A first purchase for all collections. Both teens and adults will be drawn to this title.

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