Review: Together, Apart anthology
by Erin A. Craig, Auriane Desombre, Erin Hahn, Bill Konigsberg, Rachael Lippincott, Brittney Morris, Sajni Patel, Natasha Preston, Jennifer Yen
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Publication Date: October 20, 2020
Genres: Young Adult, Romance
I received an advance review copy of this book from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.My rating:
A collection of original contemporary love stories set during life in lockdown by some of today's most popular YA authors.
Erin Craig "delivers" on a story about a new girl in town and the cute pizza delivery boy, Auriane Desombre captures our hearts with teens communicating through window signs, and Bill Konigsberg takes us along on daily walks with every step bringing us closer to love. There's flirting and romance from Rachael Lippincott, a tale of a determined girl with a mask-making business from Erin Hahn, and a music-inspired love connection from Sajni Patel. Brittney Morris turns enemies to lovers with the help of a balcony herb garden, Jennifer Yen writes an unconventional romance that starts outside a hospital, and Natasha Preston's teens discover each other--and their love story--in a storybook oak tree.
Romantic, realistic, sweet and uplifting, TOGETHER, APART is a collection of finding love in unexpected places during an unprecedented time . . . each with the one thing we all want: a guaranteed happy ending.
Content warnings: View Spoiler »mention of past self-harm, social anxiety, homophobia (by another character, off-page), misgendering (by another character, off-page), accidental injury (broken wrist and glass in foot), kid getting kicked out of home due to homophobia, panic attack (on-page) « Hide Spoiler
That cover is super cute and, honestly, who could say no to a bunch of pandemic meet-cutes? I hadn’t read most of these authors before, so I was pleasantly surprised how much I liked this anthology – and now I have a whole bunch of new authors’ backlists to check out!
“Love, Delivered” – Erin A. Craig – ★★★★
Millie and her parents have just moved to a new house in Michigan, one that’s so out in the boonies that it has no cell reception or any food delivery options beyond pizza. With her parents gone all day working at the local hospital, no way to get into town for groceries and nothing to do but unpack, Millie strikes up a friendship – and a mild flirtation – with the pizza delivery kid over basketball and books. It’s cute and I thought it showed Millie’s frustrations – moving during a pandemic, missing her friends, being home alone without her parents in a new place – well.
“The Socially Distant Dog-Walking Brigade” – Bill Konigsberg – ★★★★
Kaz already has a hard time talking to people, so when his dog Griffin pees all over another another dog walker he just met… well, apparently he can just never go to that dog park again. But he keeps running into Daxton and his dog Squirrel on their daily walks, and suddenly they’re walking together every day. This was cute and absolutely hilarious at points, but also a lot heavier between Kaz’s social anxiety and their discussions of their parents’ casual homophobia/transphobia.
“One Day” – Sajni Patel – ★★★★★
All Bobby’s trying to do when she goes out on the balcony is escape her family and their claustrophobic apartment so her headache will go away. That’s her only explanation for why, when the boy in the building next to her won’t stop playing his guitar, she throws her sneaker at him. Now the boy’s serenading her sneaker and refusing to give it back… unless she gives him her number. This was just over-the-top rom-com hijinks adorable and uplifting.
“The Rules of Comedy” – Auriane Desombre – ★★★
Finding out her chem partner, who she’s been crushing over all year, is gay is the best thing that happened to Harper since the pandemic started. But how can her boring old self ever attract bubbly, hilarious Alyssa’s attention? Obviously the only solution is to convince her comedy major older sister to help her make a viral TikTok. This was cute, but for whatever reason (maybe because I’m old?) the whole viral TikTok/”I’m not funny enough!” thing didn’t work for me.
“The New Boy Next Door” – Natasha Preston – ★★★
Two weeks into the lockdown, and Quinn is officially obsessed with the new boy next door, Archer. Problem is, she can’t seem to actually get him to talk to her – all he seems capable of doing is scowling. While I enjoy a good grumpy hero, something about this story just didn’t work for me. The neighborhood’s a little too perfect and I couldn’t buy how quickly Quinn and Archer connected.
“Love with a Side of Fortune” – Jennifer Yen – ★★★★
Michelle’s pandemic “break” has been spent working at her family’s restaurant. Between that and her mom’s fortune teller’s prediction that her next year will be not great, the last thing she expects is to see her crush, high school swim team star, Evan, picking up some broccoli beef. Before she knows it, Evan’s picking up food every night and they’re chatting like friends. But will the fortune teller’s prediction mean that any relationship between them is doomed before it starts? This one was so funny, and I loved how awkward Michelle was with Evan initially.
“The Green Thumb War” – Brittney Morris – ★★★★★
Billie’s therapist has suggested she start growing plants on their balcony to help her deal with the stress of living in an apartment during the pandemic. What doesn’t help her stress is when her cat leaps across the balcony to the next apartment over and injures the cute boy who lives there. While the meet-cute was the absolute most ridiculous of all of the stories, I loved how this one had both Billie and Sebastian’s POVs. Billie is so ice-cold while Sebastian is just absolutely adorable while trying to get her number, and I couldn’t even.
“Stuck with Her” – Rachael Lippincott – ★★★
Allie is regretting not getting on-campus housing for her sophomore year even more now that she’s stuck with her roommate Mia. She’s messy and loud, but at least now she can’t have her equally annoying friends over for parties every Saturday. Though she seems to be doing her best to make up for that by playing music at 3am every morning. I wanted to like this one – especially since it was the only one involving college students – but Mia was just too annoying for me.
“Masked” – Erin Hahn – ★★★★
Gray has developed quite the crush on Jude while chatting online with him about making masks for his uncle’s employees. After she finally meets him, the crush gets even worse, especially since he looks like her favorite contestant on a reality show. Maybe… too much like that contestant? OK, this one seriously strained my suspension of disbelief, but it was so adorable and well-written (and dual POV again!) that I honestly couldn’t care. I’ve read the author before and absolutely loved her writing style, so honestly, liking this one was no surprise for me. I loved the focus on music.
Overall, for the most part, the stories in this anthology really worked for me. I’m certainly far (far!) outside of the target age range, but the characters’ pandemic frustrations and hopes still spoke to me. Even better, I’ve found several new authors to look up!