#LoveOzYA | BEGIN, END, BEGIN, Book Thoughts

Fairly recently I’ve been welcomed warmly into the #LoveOzYA community.

Growing up (in a small rural town, where our school library was the town library) the amount of YA we had to begin with was pretty abysmal. Just the bare basics. Utterly entirely white. Utterly entirety American. I was actually inspired to begin writing my own stories because I struggled throughout high school for years trying to find every queer YA book I could (I found seven) and of that seven only one was by an Australian author (shout out to Lili Wilkinson).

The lack or rather; the ‘Great Swallowing’ of  Aussie YA by American authors, stories, voices, was never something that really bothered me, really registered for me until I began to write myself. I realised that there was a massive gap between what I could call familiar, relatable, home, and what was presented to me in the young adult fiction that dominated the book shops I frequented and the schools I attended. The Aussie YA fiction that was available ~wavy hand gesture~ it was very selective, rarely actually relatable beyond some spelling and kids saying ‘Uni’ instead of ‘College’.

I know I’m not the only one who felt like this growing up. #LoveOzYA the hashtag, the movement the call to arms, reflects this desire for more Australian visibility in the YA sphere world over, but more importantly right here at home.

#LoveOzYA represents a grassroots movement devoted to the promotion of Australian writers, Australian authors and Australian stories.

BEGIN END BEGIN is a celebration of the success and continuing growth of this movement.

Editor and contributor to the newly released BEGIN END BEGIN: A #LoveOzYA ANTHOLOGY, Danielle Binks writes; "Books create communities,” this is something that has been proven true to me time and time again. No community is perfect, as communities are made up of individuals, but the individuality of #LoveOzYA, those in publishing and editing and writing, and of course those blogging and reading, is where it gathers its power. Its force, its diversity (which is a particular note of importance and something we are all still striving to grow and support and fight for both in our stories and how we craft/sell them).

BEGIN END BEGIN as a collection of short stories by celebrated Aussie authors champions this mission. Filled to the page border with a variety of stories some including space travel, modern day psychics, teen pregnancy, magic realism and every day contemporary, BEGIN END BEGIN presents a great sampling of what Aussie YA Lit has to offer. More than that, it shows us a cliff edge from which we can fly, beginnings, endings, mushy middle ground that isn’t quite either—overall the collection does not disappoint.

Love Oz YA is about the inclusion of voices,” writes Binks in a letter to us, me, you, the reader and she is spot on. The breath and depth of voices shown here is something really special to behold and only speaks to more diversity in stories and story tellers in the #LoveOzYA family.

One Small Step by Amie Kaufman
A very cute quick story, but….IN SPACE….

I Can See The Ending by Will Kostakis
A great concept and excellent execution! As always Kostakis delivers.

In a Heartbeat by Alice Pung
Possibly my favourite of the lot. Hits down on hard truths and family relationships.

First Casualty by Michael Pryor
I love how this unfolded, also good not too strenuous worldbuilding.

Sundays by Melissa Keil
Very cute. And very real. Also one of my favorites.

Missing Persons by Ellie Marney
Very sweet and cute, though I feel as though I am missing something, prequel to something maybe? XD

Oona Underground by Lili Wilkinson
Love the blending and almost surrealist realism. Lili Always delivers!

The Feeling from Over Here by Gabrielle Tozer
I am all about buses and meet-cutes. Felt very grounded.

Last Night at the Mount Solemn Observatory by Danielle Binks
This hits parts of me I didn’t even know could feel emotion… damnit

Competition Entry #349 by Jaclyn Moriarty
Fantastic character voice here, a definite fave. A perfect way to cap off a lovely anthology.

Snapshots, pieces, fragments, just a taste. Some authors I have read before (and loved) some new authors too who’ve given me some new titles to add to my reading list. My personal highlights were Will Kostakis, Alice Pung, Lili Wilkinson, Jaclyn Moriarty, Melissa Keil and Danielle Binks but ALL of the contributors were brought together to do what they do best. Tell damn great stories and tell them well.

Honestly, in reading stories all brought together like this, I’ve never felt more proud, excited, emboldened and challenged to be a young Australian writer and specifically, a writer for other young Australians.

I most certainly loved reading this. I love celebrating this. I truly #LoveOzYA and all of the people who came together and continue to come together to make it happen.

If you #LoveOzYA, this is an anthology for you.