Rating: 5 stars out of 5
Harmonious Hearts 2018 – Stories from the Young Author Challenge
Authors: A. Aduma, Arbour Ames, Nick Anthony, M. Caldeira, Kat Freydl, Sonali Gattani, B.K. Hayes, Mattye Johnson, Daniel Okulov, Chloe Smith, Chelsea Winters
Diversity is our strength, and now more than ever, the voices of young LGBTQIA authors need to be heard. Harmony Ink is proud to showcase the next generation of talented writers in our fifth annual Harmonious Hearts anthology. These authors, all between the ages of fourteen and twenty-one, are the winners of our Young Author Challenge and represent the future voices of our community. We are honored to showcase these writers, their experiences, visions, and the glimpses into their hearts in these pages. Join them on their journey and help us celebrate their courage, their love, and their unique ways of seeing the world.
The talented young writers who contributed to this book should be proud. While all the stories are tied together by the LGBTQIA theme, they are all unique and approach their subjects differently. They are definitely not all light-hearted and fluffy and a couple of them made me so angry or sad.
Just a Phase by M. Calderia Taking that big step of admitting who you like can be scary but it’s a little easier when you have a no-nonsense best friend supporting you. While Meg tries to pass off her attraction to girls as “Just a phase, huh?” Emme is having none of it, giving Meg courage. I was happy that she got her brave on.
The Language Unspoken by Chelsea Winters Cody struggles with asthma, being tossed out by his homophobic mother and trying to do too much. “But Cody had almost lost everything to get where he was after he came out and his mother cut ties with him, and he wasn’t going to give it up for the world.” He has two awesome friends in his roommate, Alex, and his best friend, Ellie. He works at a flower shop and is immediately taken with a beautiful stranger who comes to order flowers. He believes he has too much baggage and “…I’m not really, like the choice most people would make or anything…” He’s more than he thinks and I was glad someone else noticed.
A Boy Like Edgar by Nick Anthony Gabe is an art student who has the technique perfected but doesn’t have the passion, the spark, that makes a true artist. “My work was heavy and precise, with dark, moody palettes, and obviously showing a lot of skill. I wasn’t like some of my counterparts, full of energy and color, making strokes with abandon and whimsy. That had been bred out of me.” It isn’t until he meet Edgar, a fellow art student, that he starts to realize what all that color and energy can come to mean and that was lovely to read.
Of College and Lost Dogs by Mattye Johnson A sweet story of a new beginning at college and the making of new friends. Learning to sign to be able to communicate with them has an added bonus.
2:00 AM by Sonali Gattani This was one of the stories that took my heart and stomped on it. Told completely by texts to his best friend, Kara, this is so bittersweet and seriously made me cry. It is the mark of a gifted author that through the tears I was able to see the hope even as I was so angry with Kara’s parents. I am usually not one for sad or angsty stories but this was one of my favorites because it was so real. Well done.
143 by Chloe Smith A little bit of paranormal in this tale of Penelope, her dad and the aunt that no one talked about. I liked how Penelope was honest with her dad, not only about her sexuality but about how he made her feel growing up. “While he was there physically, I never felt he was there for me, not really…” That made a difference and Aunt Catherine was there in spirit for her. I loved the meaning of 143 and the Twitter conversations. Love is worth it.
Dev’s Law by A. Aduma Facing the wrath of your father for being honest about yourself isn’t easy but it’s softened when you have someone by your side. That’s what Dev wants to be for Law when he is caught with gay porn by his dad. The only thing more embarrassing would be how T came out to his family. While this could have been heavy, it wasn’t and I appreciated that. And let’s talk about Dev’s mother, who is now my spirit animal. “She didn’t even shy away from talking about anal sex, like the prepping and all that, importance of lube and enemas…” With both Dev and Law, no less. Go mom! Another favorite.
The Head That Wears a Crown by Kat Freydl All I can say is, everyone, and I mean everyone, should have a brother like Cal but especially those who have a father like theirs. Charlie is dealing with so much and their father is a homophobic televangelist that leaves them to fend for themselves but Cal is there for Charlie, always. I can’t even say how much I admired them. “You’re just Charlie….You’re just. You are. You’re immune to semantics.” Loved.
The Train Station by B.K. Hayes Whoo, a sad one where I was so worried about what was going to happen. As you figure out what is up with the train station, I wanted her to understand what this would mean. I don’t want to give anything away but I did want to know what happened to Aleja. The ending was such a relief.
Subtle by Daniel Okulov My total favorite of the anthology, a lesson in how you treat people, how you judge people and most importantly, that you can change those things. Matty has autism and while his big brother, Justin, starts out very selfish and I was rolling my eyes at him but the new babysitter, Dakota, helped him be better. Dakota understands what it’s like for people to not get you and that made a difference. Loved this one.
Someone Else’s Star by Arbour Ames This one was just too sad for me. Or maybe it just made me too angry, that Kelly promised to always be there for Fletcher but broke that promise without warning. The message from Blue just made me madder. Kelly seemed to be this amazing person and then lost my respect.
Cover art by Paul Richmond shows the back of a person standing in front of a rainbow colored graffiti wall. I thought this fit the feel of the book, as the stories were all different yet linked by the rainbow.
eBook,Paperback, 234 pages
Published October 1st 2018 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 1641081449 (ISBN13: 9781641081443)