Review: Fresh Ink edited by Lamar Giles

Fresh Ink edited by Lamar Giles
Genre: YA Contemporary, Realistic Fiction, LGBTQIA+, #ownvoices, Short Stories
Publication: August 14th 2018 by Crown Books for Young Readers
Series: None. Standalone.
Length: 208 pages
Format: ARC from publisher
Rating: ★★★.5

Amazon || Book Depository

In partnership with We Need Diverse Books, thirteen of the most recognizable, diverse authors come together in this remarkable YA anthology featuring ten short stories, a graphic short story, and a one-act play from Walter Dean Myers never before in-print.

Careful–you are holding fresh ink. And not hot-off-the-press, still-drying-in-your-hands ink. Instead, you are holding twelve stories with endings that are still being written–whose next chapters are up to you.

Because these stories are meant to be read. And shared.

Thirteen of the most accomplished YA authors deliver a label-defying anthology that includes ten short stories, a graphic novel, and a one-act play. This collection will inspire you to break conventions, bend the rules, and color outside the lines. All you need is fresh ink.

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Huge thanks to my friends from Penguin Random House International for sending me a review copy of this title in exchange for an honest review. This did not, in any way, affect my overall opinion of the book and/or the story.

I remember seeing a review copy of Fresh Ink circulating Instagram earlier this year, and of course, since everyone knows just how big a fan I am of Nicola Yoon, I simply had to read this. I ended up loving most of the short stories in this collection, and so read on to know what I thought of every story!

Eraser Tattoo by Jason Reynolds // This was such a great story to start off this anthology. To me, this felt like a short, and bittersweet story that really captured the idea of the anthology. It definitely left me hanging, and I most certainly craved for more upon turning the last page. In this short story, a reader can find feelings of excitement, sadness, and love, all wrapped up in under 20 pages.

Meet Cute by Malinda Lo // Much like Eraser Tattoo, this one was sweet, and it reminded me of another anthology with the same title. This story featured an F/F romance that highlighted the importance of dauntlessness in every relationship, and the things one can do when they fall in love.

Don’t Pass Me By by Eric Gansworth // This, I believe focused more on bullying and smiling at the face of adversity. This story shared a good message, although the story felt a little flat in my opinion. There wasn’t enough flair to it, and thus it felt easily forgettable.

Be Cool for Once by Aminah Mae Safi // This one tells a story that I believe mostly took place in some sort of concert. Much like the first two stories, this one was also cute and entertaining but I have to be honest and say that this also felt a little too forgettable for me. It had so many characters present in several scenes and it was made a bit confusing because of this. Although I did enjoy this when I read it.

Tags by Walter Dean Myers // This one was impressionable to me because of the humor built into the story, but, much like the other previous stories in this anthology, this also felt a little flat and the plot was, to be completely honest, a little boring. It was unique though, and I’m sure it will click with other readers.

Why I Learned to Cook by Sarah Farizan // Oh, boy this one was an instant favorite. This also featured a F/F romance that was equal parts empowering and heartwarming. This one tells a story about a grandmother who loved to cook, and a grandchild who fell in love with someone of the same gender. The grandchild took the liberty of learning how to cook just to spend time with her grandmother and in the end, used her cooking to her advantage by inviting her loved one for a meal so she could introduce her to her grandmother. MY GOD, THIS MELTED MY HEART!

A Stranger at the Bochinche by Daniel Jose Older and A Boy’s Duty by Sharon G. Flake // These two are ones that I didn’t quite understand. I felt confused and extremely puzzled while reading both of these stories and I’m not sure if there’s something wrong with me and the way I read it, or if these stories really are complicated and perplexed. Though I’m sure someone out there is bound to like (or love) these ones.

One Voice by Melissa De La Cruz // This one’s a novella that takes place in the Something In Between universe, also by Melissa De La Cruz. It’s a story about racism, activism, and the dauntless act of accepting yourself, especially in an environment that doesn’t seem to want to accept you in any way, even in modern times. This could’ve been a very enjoyable one, I believe, but since I still haven’t read Something In Between, I can’t say I fully appreciated this one.

Paladin/Samurai by Gene Luen Yang and Thien Pham // This one I really, really enjoyed partly because it’s the only illustrated story there is in this collection. This one, if I understood it correctly, is a story about the power of creativity, resilience, confidence, and how it sometimes come into play in real life. It literally says that the plan of action for those who want to win is to show our adversaries who we truly are.

Catch, Pull, Drive by Schuyler Bailar // This was a surprisingly moving read! Schuyler’s contribution to this collection is a heartwarming story of a transgender student athlete who was afraid to go through with transitioning because of the issue of modern-day acceptance, bullying, and  homophobia. What I loved most about this was the main character, and his resilience, and his courage to do good by himself.

Super Human by Nicola Yoon // Not that I’m surprised or anything but this is my most favorite short story in this collection. Super Human is the story of a Black super hero and the first civilian he has ever saved. It’s about trying to restore faith in humanity in someone who has been so wronged by society and how hard for it is sometimes to look above all the hate. It reminds it’s readers that there will always be counterarguments to all the negativity and that in the end, we are, all of us, still capable of love.

“Fresh Ink is an extremely lovable collection of short stories that highlight love, hope, confidence, and acceptance. It tells stories that are filled with admiration, from authors who are considered to be masters of their craft. I grew impressed with every new story that I read, and even though I didn’t love it as much as I wanted to, I’m sure readers from all over the world will one way or another.”


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Have YOU read Fresh Ink yet? If not, be sure to grab a copy from your local book store and start reading it! And once you do, let me know what you think of it down below in the comments section!


Arctic Books general graphics JMJM is a 21 year old blogger from Manila. He has a degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management mainly because it was too late when he discovered that literature and publishing is his true calling. He enjoys reading contemporary and fantasy novels as much as he enjoys playing video games and baking pastries. You may find him on his book blog, Book Freak Revelations, also on TwitterInstagram, & Goodreads.



6 thoughts on “Review: Fresh Ink edited by Lamar Giles

  1. I hope to get a copy of this to read–I love anthologies to mix up longer reads. Plus, this one has Jason Reynolds’ and Nicola Yoon’s work, both of which I love.


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