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YA Short Fiction Recommendations (#1)

Updated: Aug 9, 2022

I have been immersing myself in the wonderful world of YA short fiction lately and wanted to recommend a few of my favourites. I’ll likely make a series of recs as there are still so many more to read.

Please note that my tastes are quite broad and just because I enjoyed something doesn’t mean you will too.

Sweet Sixteen, by Kat Howard. A beautiful tale about pondering your own destiny, making huge choices, and how you might be able to have an impact on the world around you. This is a relatively short read.

“The process was designed to blend desire and ability with need. Things don’t work if everyone is a Meryl and no one is a Martha. And you know what happens when I try to cook,” Elizabeth Sky said. “What if I had wanted to be a Julia?”

Ratspeak, by Sarah Porter. I love the unique premise and the gorgeous writing here, though the story is by no means nice and the protagonist is not particularly likeable (something I enjoy on occasions like these, since not all humans are particularly likeable). A selfish young boy is granted a wish from a rat. He chooses to learn their language, against the rats’ warnings.

It takes me a moment to recognize that her last sentence was sung rather than spoken, her meaning inherent in the twists and intervals between each squeak. A language so subtle and silken that it renders communication as I’ve known it obsolete, vulgar, and unbearably crude.

Ghost Town, by Malinda Lo. This is a contemporary YA story about ghosts, small-town mindset, sexuality, homophobia, and self-identity in new surroundings. There's also some revenge pranking. The protagonists voice is clear and compelling.

A shock jolts through me, hot and cold all at once. I become aware of a dim buzzing in my ears as I stare at the word. The whole effect is, I have to admit, very well done. The drips look just like blood, and it ties in perfectly with the story McKenzie just told me, although I know that the word isn’t about Ida and her maybe-girlfriend Elsie.

Belly, by Desiree S. Evans. I don’t know how to begin to express how immersive and rich this story is, and how beautifully it’s written. It’s a story about family, fractured community and being intrinsically a part of the place you call home—and how it feels when that place is under threat.

Jaima nods, closing her eyes, shivering; everything around her rocks like she’s on a boat at sea. Her belly sloshes joyously, and Jaima can’t help herself—she laughs, soft at first, like a whisper, and then louder when she opens her eyes and feels the rain on her skin. It’s a good rain, ozone-rich.
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