If you follow me on Twitter, then you should know how much I love Color Outside the Lines, an YA anthology about interracial relationships that I was beyond excited for. As much as I’d love to share the review I’ve written for Color Outside the Lines with you all right now – it’s over 2000 words, whoops – the book releases in November 2019, which is nine months away. Rather than keep in all my excitement to myself, I decided to list sixteen reasons why you should read this gem of an anthology.
I don’t see experiences that people in interracial relationships experience represented in books, let alone young adult books, so learning that this anthology exists, getting the chance to read it (thank you, Soho Teen!) means so much to me. So, I’m here to convince you today (and no one asked me to write this; I’m fuelled by my passion for this book) to pick up Color Outside the Lines when it releases in November. And thus, here are my sixteen (excellent!) opinions of why you should read it.
1. It’s about interracial relationships, and its representation extends beyond superficial portrayal
Although I’ve loved books that have portrayed interracial relationships in the past (books like The Sun Is Also A Star and I Believe In a Thing Called Love) and appreciate them for what they are, a part of me has always craved for a story that depicts interracial relationships for what they can be: messy, complicated, a process of learning and overcoming cultural differences, but also full of unexpected joy.
More importantly, Color Outside the Lines explores and celebrates that love is diverse. It extends the idea and reality that romance can be diverse, that families can be diverse, and how different people can come together but that those differences, though challenging, do not have to be obstacles: they can be a beautiful and tender thing too.
2. Anna-Marie McLemore’s story is about passions and chronic pain
If you love McLemore’s stories, such as When the Moon Was Ours, and her gorgeous and floral writing, then you’ll love McLemore’s contribution to the story, about a Romani boy and Latinx girl, and they are brought together by their passions and their chronic pain. And yes! there are flowers in this short story. In fact, the story is set in the context of preparing for a wedding where flowers will rain.
3. Lauren Gibaldi’s story embodies an iconic line from Star Wars
I tweeted about a trope that appears in this story:
and it seemed to resonate with a lot more people than I anticipated! In addition to this promised trope (which made me absolutely weak in the knees), Gibaldi’s story is about a Jewish girl and an Indian boy who bond over a revenge plot and their love for Star Wars, but come to realise an important life lesson.
4. Tarun Shanker and Kelly Zekas’s story features historical badass pirate warlord: Ching Shih
Oh, this story is SO WILD, and I loved it. This is probably one of the strangest short stories that I’ve read in a long time, but that’s what makes it delightful and so incredibly funny. Set in a world where everyone is haunted by the ghost of their ancestor, it follows the unlikely and dysfunctional (not romantic!) relationship between a South Asian teen and his ancestor: Ching Shih.
And if you don’t know who Ching Shih is, the most successful pirate in history (with a fleet of 80,000), read her story and get excited!
5. L.L. McKinney’s story is set in the context of Black Lives Matter
This was easily one of my favourite stories in the anthology, and I honestly created this list just so I could tell you about this story’s existence. It follows a Black superheroine and her White girlfriend, and is set in the context of the Black Lives Matter protests. The dynamic between the characters in this story is brilliant and the questions and challenges that this story addresses are so important. Loved this story, and now I can’t wait to read A Blade So Black.
6. Lori M. Lee’s story reads like a Hmong celestial fairytale
If you liked Lee’s contribution to the A Thousand Beginnings and Endings anthology, then you’ll adore this story about a Hmong girl who meets a White boy with a mysterious past. This story was just… ethereal. Gorgeously written. And the ending was so magical and fitting and fairytale-like.
7. Sangu Mandanna’s story is about challenging white privilege
I loved this story instantly, not only for the themes Mandanna’s story explores, but also because it was sharp and brilliant (just like her space fantasy book, A Spark of White Fire). This story twists and puts a stopper on all the romance tropes we know and love, and raises an important and needed point about privilege, ignorance, and doing better. I loved this story, and the ending was hopeful too.
8. Samira Ahmed’s story is about how one person can change our lives
This story made Lili from Utopia of Mind and I cry. Ahmed’s writing in this is incredible, and her ability to evoke emotions is – whew. Let’s just say that I need to pick up her book, Love Hate and Other Filters immediately. This is a historical fiction set in Colonial India between an Indian girl and an Irish soldier. And if you think the idea of that relationship is tenuous, Ahmed doesn’t forget that for a second and builds their relationship into something that is beautiful and… well, I’ll let you all read it and find out for yourself.
9. Caroline Tung Richmond’s story is about taking chances
If you are, or were, the teen who was awkward, overthought everything, was a nervous bean, played a musical instrument and doubted your ability to make first chair, and confessing to your crush took every fibre of your being? Then Richmond’s story will resonate with you. This story was just so charming and endearing, and I loved the message at the end.
10. Tara Sim’s story is an F/F Hades/Persephone retelling
I’ve been telling anyone who says they want a ‘Hades/Persephone retelling’ to pick up this anthology because, yes! Sim, author of the Timekeeper series, has blessed us all with not only a Hades/Persephone, but one that is beautifully queer and sapphic. This story is so atmospheric, gorgeous, and has an Indian girl who is Hades’ next bride. Oh, and hell yes, there’s consent!
11. Karuna Riazi’s story explores the complex relationships we have with family
Most of the stories here are about interracial romances, but Riazi, author of the steampunk x Jumanji middle grade novel The Gauntlet, has contributed a tender story about mixed families. There’s friendship, there’s food, there’s self-discovery, and there’s love in all forms.
12. Michelle Ruiz Keil’s story celebrates self-discovery and punk rock
I’m incredibly excited for Keil’s story, All of Us With Wings, and reading her contribution to the anthology has doubled my excitement. Set in the early 90’s, Keil’s story is about punk rock, Mexican and biracial identity, and how some people enter our lives like hurricanes – and that sometimes that is all they will ever be – and that there will be people who will stay. Loved this one.
13. Elsie Chapman’s story is about the weight of family expectations
I don’t think I’ve read books that tackle the issue of Asian fetishisation (or ‘yellow fever’), but Chapman (who has two books releasing soon: All The Ways Home and Caster) story tackles this and how racism intersects with relationships, as well as the burden of familial expectations. This story was brilliantly told, set in the ‘in-between’ moment of an Asian-American girl’s life before she has to make a choice.
14. Eric Smith’s story is about meeting the family for the first time
Meeting the family can be scary, but having to anticipate and navigate cultural differences, and expect questions to do with that, can be an anxiety-inducing and awkward. In this story, Smith explores colourblindness, and being a transracial adoptee in particular, and how a Middle Eastern teen and a Palestinian teen (with white parents) go through these new experiences together.
15. Lydia Kang’s story is about how, sometimes, differences don’t matter
Kang writes atmosphere brilliantly (one of her earlier books, The November Girl, is an example), and that shines through in her contribution about a girl, Yuna, who is the daughter of a poisoner, who meets Himil, a boy scarred from the poxplague. It explores ostracism, how appearances can be deceiving, and is a nice closing story about how, sometimes, differences don’t matter.
16. It also has stories by Danielle Paige and Adam Silvera
Danielle Paige, author of the Dorothy Must Die series, and Adam Silvera, who wrote More Happy Than Not, a book that changed my reading life, also make contributions to this anthology! Unfortunately their books were not included in my DRC, but I have no doubt that both will be spectacular.
I’m really excited for all of you to read Color Outside the Lines when it releases in November! (And I’m excited to read Paige and Silvera’s contributions when I get my own copy at the end of the year.) More importantly, I hope that this anthology may open more publishing doors to exploring interracial relationships in the future — because there are so many of us who would love to see our stories told.
- Have you read a book that was about an interracial relationship? If so, what was it? (Any book recommendations?!)
- What stories would you like to see told more?
- If you could choose a theme for an anthology, what would it be?