Hello everybody, and welcome to day 17 of blogmas!
Today, I’m going to be reviewing the short stories in Stripes’s anthology I’ll Be Home for Christmas, which I loved.
Onto the reviews!
Ghosts of Christmas Past by Non Pratt– even though I was bound to love this one already since one of the charcaters is a Scottish girl called Amy, I found lots of other high points. There’s an ADORABLE bulldog called Violet, I love main character Sam and his narration, Non Pratt’s dialogue is as sharp as ever and I love the idea itself, which is that Sam (a boy who is struggling to adapt to his new home/life after his parents ‘ divorce) meets Amy, who now lives in his childhood home and them getting to know each other.
If Only in My Dreams by Marcus Sedgwick– While I loved the idea behind this, I struggled a bit with the execution, for example the unusual way of marking speech. The ending was incredibly unsettling and upsetting though. It’s about astronauts flying round the Earth, and the discussion of an unusual dream.
Family You Choose by Cat Clarke– While very much not what I’d have expected from the queen of thrillers, I really enjoyed this story of people with no one else coming together for a festive feast and making unexpected friendships. I loved the people that main character Effie meets, especially Leonard and I thought that the story as as a whole captured the true meaningof Christmas.
The Associates by Kevin Brooks– this was a sort of fly on the wall story of following two homeless men for a day. I loved the friendship between Manny and Hugh, which was the main focus of the story, and I thought the prose in this was oddly beautiful. I’ve never read anything by Kevin Brooks before, but I’m definetly interested now.
The Afterschool Club by Holly Bourne– this is my absolute standout favourite of this anthology; which came as no surprise. Holly Bourne managed to make me love unlikely friends Mercedes and Ben in such a short piece, while also making them both flawed and incredibly fleshed out for a short story. She also deftly mixes humour and a more serious tone perfectly, and the ending has left me desperate for a full book about these characters to further explore their relationship and the unseen horror of Mercedes’s home life.
Homo for Christmas by Juno Dawson– I thoroughly enjoyed this one. It’s about Duncan, who is extremely anxiously about going home for Christmas and coming out to his mum, and the relationship that’s inspired him to do so. His narration was brilliant; witty and funny and easy to read, and I loved the ending of the story.
Amir and George by Sita Brahmachari- While I found the writing style of this hard to read, it mosy definetely fit the story it was telling ofa refugee called Amir and his story. I thoughtAmir was extremely brave and inspiring, and I thought his journey to England was both heartbreaking and heartwarming.
The Letter by Tracy Darnton– this story takes place in a bowling alley and it’s about Amber, whois in care and her reaction to a letter from her absent father. This subverted all my expectations about what would happen and in my opinion is a hugely deserving winner of the Stripes Short Story prize that it won to be included in this book. I’m very muchlooking forward to Tracy’s debut novel in 2018.
Claws by Tom Becker– I didn’t really gel with this one unfortunately. I’m not a big fan of horror, which possibly explains it. I also found the bitty sections hard to follow, and it took till the end for anything to really make sense. I did like the prose, however.
Christmas, Take Two by Katy Cannon- this is my joint favourite of the anthology with the Afterschool Club. It’s the story of Heather, who’s spending Christmas with her dad and his new family. The story itself of Heather coming to terms with this is lovely, Katy Cannon’s writing is fantastic with subtle humour sprinkled throughout, and I felt like I knew these characters really well. I especcially loved neigbour Owen.
When Daddy Comes Home by Melvin Burgess- even though I’m not sure I understood this story 100%, and I had to reread certain parts a few times to catch anything, I still enjoyed the sarcastic narrator and the overall idea. It’s about a prime minister’s son in a near dystopian future going iver his childhood memories, and realising they might not be all they seem…
The Bluebird by Julie Mayhew- this is a melancholy story about a girl called Rae, and her finding the courage to disobey her dad, still wracked with grief over her mum leaving. The writing style was very difficult to adapt to but I loved it once I got into it, and I really liked how it references and resembles fairytales.
Routes and Wings by Lisa Williamson- this was an amazing ending to the anthology; heartbreaking and heartwarming at the same time. My heart broke for narrator Lauren, who is homeless after moving to London as her situation was so tragic. The ending was lovely (and very unexpected for me) and is an excellent sum up of the message I got from a lot of this anthology; Christmas is about kindness, and trying to do good for others.
What are your favourite stories in this, if you’ve read it? Is it on your TBR? Are you a fan of any of the authors who contributed? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter @GoldenBooksGirl!