18/30 Book Review: Welcome Home


Welcome Home: An Anthology on Love and Adoption
Edited by Eric Smith
Pub date: September 5, 2017
(Review copy via NetGalley)

Authors

  • Adi Alsaid
  • Karen Akins
  • Erica M. Chapman
  • Caela Carter
  • Libby Cudmore
  • Dave Connis
  • Julie Eshbaugh
  • Helene Dunbar
  • Lauren Gibaldi
  • Shannon Gibney
  • Jenny Kaczorowski
  • Julie Leung
  • Sangu Mandanna
  • Matthew Quinn Martin
  • Mindy McGinnis
  • Lauren Morrill
  • Tameka Mullins
  • Sammy Nickalls
  • Shannon Parker
  • C.J. Redwine
  • Randy Ribay
  • William Ritter
  • Stephanie Scott
  • Natasha Sinel
  • Eric Smith
  • Courtney C. Stevens
  • Nic Stone
  • Kate Watson
  • Tristina Wright

The Need

While I’m sure there are YA books with fostered/adopted main characters, I haven’t read…any, I think. So I was delighted to find that a stellar group of YA authors was coming together for this anthology. The realm of fostering and adoption has become much more personal for my family in the past few years. Through that journey, I’ve learned a lot about unthinkable living conditions, long-term problems, and new kinds of love.

Welcome Home shines a light on the struggles and triumphs of people in similar (fictional) journeys.

The Diversity

Three major elements of diversity that I respect in Welcome Home: the authors, the writing, and the stories.

The authors seem to be a good mix of gender, ethnicity, experience, etc. Most of them have a personal connection to adoption/fostering, although not all disclose or hint at that in their bios, so I can’t be sure.

The writing covers a range of genres, including fantasy, sci-fi, and thriller, in addition to contemporary. I was happy to see that the authors exercised creativity and freedom in bringing ideas of love and family to many worlds.

Finally, and most importantly to me, the stories. This anthology tells a wide variety of stories. Bad adoptions, good families, bio mothers, angsty teens, accomplished soldiers, and more. The world is full of people with stories about the foster system and each of those stories is different. Welcome Home makes a happy dent in representing those stories in literature.

The Writing

A moment of truth: I didn’t like Welcome Home at first. I desperately wanted to like it. I was so excited about the concept and I really like the editor and authors. I wanted to be able to promote it and shout from the rooftops about adoption and family and love.

But I didn’t like it. I was slogging through story after story. They weren’t bad, they just weren’t connecting with me.

Eventually I realized the problem. I prefer reading very complex (sometimes very long) fiction. And no matter how good the author, he/she can only deliver a certain level of complexity in a short story. In addition, I was trying to read straight through, just story after story.

Here’s my warning: if you’re not accustomed to short stories, give this anthology a fair chance. I recommend reading one story at a time. Let the stories sit for a bit. Maybe read one over breakfast in the morning, or right before bed. Maybe on your commute. Set aside your YA fiction expectations and think about short stories. Maybe read a few classic short stories to get in the mindset.

Because short stories are a completely different work than long fiction. Don’t miss out on this ground-breaking collection just because you let the format get in way of the story, like I almost did.

Kids and Content

As a note: the range of stories in this anthology also delivers a range of content. Some stories are quite violent. Some include significant cursing. Others discuss disturbing situations.

Those are real parts of the journey for some children in the foster system. But they may be too much for younger children or triggering for some teens (or adults) to read. Just be aware.

Love is love is love

And I love the fact that this anthology exists. I highly recommend that all adults read it, especially those without much experience in the foster world. I think teens will find themselves in this book. And I hope it encourages more YA authors to write and talk about fostering, adoption, and family.

[You can review books by any of the authors on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Goodreads for entry to the grand prize giveaway–a preorder of your choice! Upload a picture of your review (or part of it!) to Twitter with #Reviews3030 or email me at ytbellereads AT gmail.com.]

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