Review: Proud Book

Proud Book compiled by Juno Dawson
Published by: Stripes
Released: 7th March 2019
Page Count: 320 pages
Edition: Paperback
Rating: 4.5/5 

Thank you to Stripes publishing for gifting me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

A stirring, bold and moving anthology of stories and poetry by top LGBTQ+ YA authors and new talent, giving their unique responses to the broad theme of pride. Each story has an illustration by an artist identifying as part of the LGBTQ+ community. Compiled by Juno Dawson, author of THIS BOOK IS GAY and CLEAN.

A celebration of LGBTQ+ talent, PROUD is a thought-provoking, funny, emotional read.

Contributors: Steve Antony, Dean Atta, Kate Alizadeh, Fox Benwell, Alex Bertie, Caroline Bird, Fatti Burke, Tanya Byrne, Moïra Fowley-Doyle, Frank Duffy, Simon James Green, Leo Greenfield, Saffa Khan, Karen Lawler, David Levithan, Priyanka Meenakshi, Alice Oseman, Michael Lee Richardson, David Roberts, Cynthia So, Kay Staples, Jessica Vallance, Kristen Van Dam and Kameron White.


I have been so excited to read Proud ever since it was first announced so when I got my hands on a copy at the Stripes Blogger YA Equali-Tea event I was almost bursting with excitement. 

Proud is an inspirational, moving, heart warming anthology of short stories and poetry by LGBTQ+ writers and each story/poem is accompanied by an illustration by an artist who also identifies as LGBTQ+. The anthology was compiled by Juno Dawson, who as you all know is a big advocate for LGBTQ+ rights. Juno's work such as This Book is Gay, The Gender Games and Mind Your Head have stood out for many reasons and I couldn't think of a better person to compile and work on Proud.

I haven't read many anthologies before Proud and this is mainly due to the fact that I can't seem to engage with all of the stories within them. However, this wasn't the case with Proud. Each and every single bit of work amazed me. All the stories/poems are incredible and each one hit me hard. Once I had finished I found it really hard to choose a favourite and a week on I still am! 

As this is a review of an anthology I'm just going to share a few thoughts on each piece of work featured.

Dive Bar by Caroline Bird

- As the first piece of work in the anthology this piece of poetry had the big task with helping readers wether to read on or not. Luckily this kept me engaged and had me wanting to read the rest of the anthology. I will admit though, that I did have to read this poem a few times to fully understand what it was trying to say. It was beautifully written, however.

Penguins by Simon James Green

- I adored this one! I just found it to be so incredibly cute and heartwarming. This story all about one boy's struggles with coming out to his family is combined with an adorable story about two gay penguins. It just had that fluffy, romantic feel that I love. I found myself smiling for ages after finishing this one.

On The Run by Kay Staples

- On The Run was about two teens who have just won the lottery and ran away from home all at the same time - to a Travelodge of all places! The underlying themes of being non-binary and also escaping an abusive home were handled extremely well. 

The Phoenix Fault by Cynthia So

- This fantasy based f/f story was a joy to read! I love fantasy so I was so involved with this one. The use of Phoenixes was so original and the ending was just adorable.

As the Philadelphia Queer Youth Choir Sings Katy Perry’s ‘Firework’ by David Levithan

- I LOVE David Levithan's work so was very excited to read this! The format is very different to the other pieces of work in the anthology but this just made it stand out more. At first, mind you, it was a bit confusing to work out what character was saying what but I soon got the gist of it. The fact that it was about an LGBT choir made it all the better!

Almost Certain by Tanya Byrne

- Almost Certain was not only a story about two females finding one another, it also touched on topics such an anxiety and grief. I love Tanya's writing and how she made everything feel so raw and vivid. Also, it's always good to include music in writing.

The Other Team by Michael Lee Richardson

- This story was all about discrimination and mis-gendering a trans boy faces when trying to place for a football team. What I loved about this story is that it took what is usually known as a 'manly' sport and turned it into something positive. The support that the team showed this boy was lovely to read.

I Hate Darcy Pemberley by Karen Lawler

- This retelling of Pride and Prejudice definitely had me getting 'mean girls' vibes. The enemies to lover trope was something I haven't read much of before so I really enjoyed reading this one. The ending had you wanting to know more.

The Courage of Dragons by Fox Benwell

- This was an inspiring read all about a group of students going on a journey to make their school gender neutral. The main character is non-binary and the support they get from their friends throughout the story is admirable. The only thing I didn't understand was the references to Dungeons and Dragons but this didn't take away my enjoyment.

The Instructor by Jess Vallance

- This is a funny, cute read all about a girl trying to learn to drive with the most craziest of instructors whilst realising that she is in love with a fellow female. This is probably the story that I found myself laughing at the most. Jess Vallance really knows how to right humour! 

Love Poems to the City by Moire Fowley Doyle 

- Love Poems to the City is all about a bisexual girl living in Ireland who is campaigning for marriage equality. As this is very relevant to what is happening today it really did resonate with me. The writing was so beautiful in this story and everything just flowed exceptionally well.

How To Come Out As Gay by Dean Atta

- This was a short but very powerful and moving poem and a perfect one to end the anthology on. It was all about coming out and I feel that many teens who are struggling to come out could find solace in this beautiful piece of poetry.

Overall, Proud was an INCREDIBLE anthology and one that I feel could help a lot of teens who are struggling to figure out who they really are. It celebrates being part of the LGBTQ+ community and even though I am just a straight ally I feel like I have taken a lot away from reading it. The stories were all beautifully written and each piece of artwork was just gorgeous! 

Thank you to Stripes for blessing us with such an informative, amazing, heart warming book!

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