Introduction from Liz Miles: “Truth & Dare pretty much says it all, and gives a feel for all the glorious colors that you can expect to find in this anthology; from thrilling red to edgy black (not forgetting lots of banana-yellow laughs). So re-read the title, then it’s up to you – do you dare to read on?”
With an introduction like the Liz Miles gives you can tell that Truth & Dare is going to be a pretty epic read from the very first page. It is a collection of Short stories from twenty different authors, including Liz Miles herself, dealing with the typical day to day issues of teenagers in the 21st centenary. Each story tackles different issues in different ways and they all speak in a voice that teens today will relate to.
I had a feeling when I first heard about this anthology that it would be epic. I had only heard of two of the authors prior to reading the book so it wasn’t the authors that enticed me so much – it was the title. Truth & Dare is different, there’s no “or” like there was in that silly teen game I used to play at sleepovers. You have no option; they are both there and are both relevant. I had heard that the stories to be included would focus on edgy topics, including some topics which are only occasionally covered in young adult books. The topics include: first love, first time sex, young teen marriage, abandonment issues, depression, OCD, anorexia, homosexuality, bi-sexuality and even rape. None of the stories hold back and I think pretty much all of them include swear words. Including one which cleverly over-used swearing!
If I went into each and every short story this review would be immense! Honestly, I think you’d probably get bored because I ain’t anywhere near as good as these authors are at keeping your attention. So instead I am going to go into a couple of my favourites.
Lost in Translation – Michael Lowenthal; this was the tale of two teenage boys who shared something special. Carlo has a soft spot for Pat and dreams that something can happen but he’s confused about their relationship and if Pat even feels the same way back. I loved this story because it was touching; I loved the characters and the way it was written. The ending was amazing and it serves well to remind us that not every living being is harsh and unwelcoming.
Iris and Jim – Sherry Shahan; A tale of love for two patients on the anorexia ward. Iris and Jim understand each other. Its love at first site for Jim and him and Iris spend some brilliant times together. I loved that this one dealt with male anorexia, you very, very rarely see that and Iris and Jim really did sound like an old married couple to me. In fact after the first paragraph I thought they were!!
Never Have I Ever – Courtney Gillette; Amber spends the weekend on a weekend college taster course for writers. With a boyfriend back home and a best friend who she’s spent the past year or so writing stories about kissing, Amber is more than a little confused. At the college she meets the beautiful, spunky Mira and soon goes into head over heels crush land. I loved that Amber is bi-sexual and it isn’t treated in any huge way, like it’s just normal. It’s not a secret between her and her boyfriend and it’s not a problem for their relationship – well, not yet anyway! I love the analogy with Strawberries and Blueberries too, that was pretty damn cool. (You will understand if you read it!) And I totally can’t blame her for falling for Mira either, she sounded awesome!
Cool Cats and Melted Kisses – Luisa Plaja; with her sister travelling Europe and her mum “finding herself” on the Isle of Wight Elli thinks it’s a good idea to visit her D.A.D (disappearing act dad) in Italy for the summer. Little does she realise that she won’t actually be staying with her dad but in an apartment he rents to students with what he tells her is two girls. Ellie soon realises that Andrea is actually Andy when she walks in on the beautiful American boy in the bathroom – naked. What follows is a lesson in life, boys and her dads mind. I loved this story, it would be a fantastic full length contemporary YA if it was one and I would have loved to hear more about Andy and Ellie. It didn’t deal with too many issues, other than that of abandonment by Ellie's father, so it was very light-hearted compared to some of the others but there’s nothing wrong with light-hearted at all!
Team Men – Emma Donohue; Jon is the son of his footballs team’s coach. This means he gets battered around worse than the other guys just because his dad wants to prove that Jon doesn’t get any special treatment. Jon finds it tough constantly being judged by his father and when Davy joins the team and Jon and Davy start fooling around Jon is ashamed of what his dad might think, but he will never, ever let his dad know about what’s going on. This one was brilliant. I loved the contrast between the two boys. They are both learning their sexual preferences and Davy even tries to date Jon's sister (before the two boys do stuff) to figure out exactly what his feelings are. Davy is true to himself the whole way through the story and I love that no matter how hard life is, he will always be that way.I have Room by this author on my tbr pile and I must get round to it!
LBGT issues are something that I feel strongly about, so I’m very happy that that is something dealt with a lot in this book, I love that in many of the stories it wasn’t the characters coming to terms with their sexuality but others coming to terms with the characters’ sexuality! Another issue tackled is rape; I was kinda shocked to see this one as it is rarely done in YA (in the books I’ve read anyway!) I think it was a brilliant story but I didn’t discuss it here as unfortunately I didn’t like the characters. I couldn’t relate to the ones in that story before the rape happened and definitely couldn’t after. Which was a huge shame as I thought the plot was brilliantly explored.
I really would recommend this anthology to anyone and everyone. It has drawn my attention to some brilliant authors. I will definitely be checking out some more books by these authors, especially those who wrote my favourite stories!