In strokes of passionate reds, sorrowful blues, hopeful yellows, powerful purples and many more electrifying colors, 13 authors make marks in the YA oeuvre with a sparklingly diverse anthology. Edited by Lamar Giles, cofounder of We Need Diverse Books, Fresh Ink spans multiple genres, formats, perspectives and themes.
Several pieces will leave readers chuckling at their clever wit: in Eric Gansworth's wonderfully compelling "Don't Pass Me By," the quiet Native American narrator struggles to exist in a predominantly white school. Some of his friends are "passing," but his distinctive traits don't allow him to hide. Plus, he points out, he failed kindergarten and "[w]hen you screw up Taking a Nap and Playing with Finger Paint, no one forgets." Other contributions haunt their audiences with powerful depth, like Walter Dean Myers's one-act play "Tags," in which spirits of dead youths are tagging walls so the living will remember them: "When that old dude told me you could still be in the world as long as people kept you in their minds, I knew what I had to do. They see these tags and they remember." Still others will warm hearts, including Sara Farizan's "Why I Learned to Cook," about a teenager connecting with both her grandmother and her girlfriend through the bonding rituals of making food.
Whether readers are searching for historical fiction or science fiction, graphic stories or traditional ones, Fresh Ink has it covered. The most profound strength of the collection, however, is the array of rich characters with whom readers will surely connect. They'll likely be difficult to forget. --Jen Forbus, freelancer