Featuring top Young Adult authors alongside a host of exciting new talent, this anthology of stories and poetry from BAME writers on the theme of change is a long-overdue addition to the YA scene. Contributors include Tanya Byrne, Inua Ellams, Catherine Johnson, Patrice Lawrence, Ayisha Malik, Irfan Master, Musa Okwonga and Nikesh Shukla.
Plus introducing four fresh new voices in YA fiction: Mary Bello, Aisha Bushby, Yasmin Rahman and Phoebe Roy.
I was sent this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review but this did not affect my opinion at all.
I’m going to structure this review how I structure all of my short story anthology reviews which is reviewing and rating each story separately as I read them and then averaging out the rating to equal my total rating of the anthology as a whole.
The Elders on the Wall by Musa Okwonga
I think this was a good start to the anthology as it was short, quick and impactful. As someone who doesn’t really read a lot of poetry, I probably didn’t appreciate it as much as I should have but I think the message behind it was fantastic but I just wish that it was a bit longer. – 4/5
Marionette Girl by Aisha Bushby
I really loved this story as I loved the way that it was told and the story itself. I’m not sure why but it gave me vibes similar to Geek Girl which I really loved so I really enjoyed this story. I liked Aisha’s method of storytelling and I’m really excited to see what she did next. I think the story was really powerful because I haven’t read many stories about OCD so it was refreshing to see it in a story. My only problem is that I wanted more. It ended too abruptly for me and I want to see what happened next. It didn’t feel like a proper ending to me, sadly but I still loved it. – 5/5
Astounding Talent! Unequalled Performances! by Catherine Johnson
I sadly didn’t enjoy this one as much as the others but I knew that going into it. I am not a fan of historical fiction as a genre so I knew I wouldn’t like it but that’s just my personal preference. I found it interesting and I liked the way it had a little profile at the end of the character but it was not the genre for me. That doesn’t mean you won’t enjoy it though! – 3/5
Hackney Moon by Tanya Byrne
I found this story to be incredibly cute. I’m a sucker for romance so I obviously had a lot of fun reading this one. Sadly, I don’t really read enough LGBT so it’s really refreshing to me when I read one. I liked the narrator and how it wasn’t told like your generic YA romance. It was unique and it also felt like a very realistic take on teenagers. – 4/5
We Who? by Nikesh Shukla
Nikesh’s story hit me very hard. As a British Asian myself, I related to it a lot. The struggles of living in this country as a British Asian were clear in this story and it didn’t attempt to even hide or disguise what it was like. It was unapologetic about its message. I also loved how ambiguous the story was in terms of not knowing the actual ethnicity or gender of the characters (unless I mis-read it) as we only knew that they were Asian because it showed that this is happening to everyone, not just one specific religion or ethnicity. It was hard hitting and impactful. – 4.5/5
The Clean Sweep by Patrice Lawrence
This story was incredibly intriguing to me. I wasn’t expecting a story like this in the anthology and I didn’t understand it at the start. It took a while for me to understand what was happening. However, I ended up finding it really addictive and interesting. I found it to be incredibly unique and unlike anything I’ve ever read before. I definitely need to pick up more of Patrice Lawrence’s work. – 4/5
Iridescent Adolescent by Phoebe Roy
I’m not entirely sure how I felt about this story. It didn’t quite hit me as much as some of the others and I was confused for most of it to be perfectly honest. Maybe it was because I wasn’t expecting a story like this in this anthology but I was a bit lost. However, when it got into it, I really enjoyed it and I think it was beautifully written so I can’t wait to see what Phoebe Roy writes next. – 3/5
Dear Asha by Mary Bello
I really loved this story. I loved how it explored culture, grief and family relationships. The inclusion of the Nigerian culture was really insightful to me as I don’t know much about it. My only complaint is that I want more. I would gladly read a whole book about Asha and I would love to know what the other letters said and what happens with her father but I guess I’ll have to settle for this. – 4.5/5
A Refuge by Ayisha Malik
This story broke my heart. I’ve been a fan of Ayisha Malik since I read Sofia Khan is Not Obliged earlier this year so I had high expectations going into this story and she did not disappoint. It was beautifully realistic and heartbreaking. Sabrina felt like a very real teenager and even though it was only a short story, her character arc was amazingly done and worked perfectly. – 5/5
The Unwritten Future of Moses Mohammed Shabazz Banneker King by Irfan Master
This is another story that I’m unsure about. I liked the actual story itself but honestly, I’m not a massive fan of magical realism as I find it hard to get my head around. I just don’t understand it to be honest. I think this was interesting with a good message but slightly confusing. – 3/5
Fortune Favours the Bold by Yasmin Rahman
As expected, I LOVED this story. It’s the one I related to the most as a Hijabi myself and I felt like it was very realistic about what it’s like to be a Muslim in Britain today. I loved the family aspect and the friendship aspect as well and I can’t wait to see what Yasmin Rahman does next. – 5/5
Of Lizard Skin and Dust Storms by Inua Ellams
This had a similar issue for me as the other poem in the anthology did as I am not a massive poetry fan. I just don’t understand it enough to appreciate it. I think this poem was well written but I just don’t think poetry is for me sadly. – 3/5
So that was my review of all of the stories in A Change is Gonna Come and I think the average rating is 4 out of 5 stars (unless my maths is completely wrong!). My favourites were the stories by Aisha Bushby, Nikesh Shukla, Ayisha Malik and Yasmin Rahman. Honestly, the beauty of an anthology like this is that there is a story for everyone. Everyone will have their own favourites as well as the one that they connect to the most, especially minorities. This really is a book for everyone and not just a privileged few who are represented in mainstream media all the time. I highly recommend you go pick it up to support BAME YA authors as YA has a severe lack of them. We need more books like this and that will only happen if you all go out and buy a copy.