[Blog Tour] Five Reasons To Read: FORESHADOW, edited by Emily X.R. Pan & Nova Ren Suma – The Best YA Anthology of This Age

Summary:

Created by New York Times bestselling authors Emily X. R. Pan and Nova Ren Suma, Foreshadow is so much more than a short story collection. A trove of unforgettable fiction makes up the beating heart of this book, and the accompanying essays offer an ode to young adult literature, as well as practical advice to writers.

Featured in print for the first time, the thirteen stories anthologized here were originally released via the buzzed-about online platform Foreshadow. Ranging from contemporary romance to mind-bending fantasy, the Foreshadow stories showcase underrepresented voices and highlight the beauty and power of YA fiction. Each piece is selected and introduced by a YA luminary, among them Gayle Forman, Laurie Halse Anderson, Jason Reynolds, and Sabaa Tahir.

What makes these memorable stories tick? What sparked them? How do authors build a world or refine a voice or weave in that deliciously creepy atmosphere to bring their writing to the next level? Addressing these questions and many more are essays and discussions on craft and process by Nova Ren Suma and Emily X. R. Pan.

This unique compilation reveals and celebrates the magic of reading and writing for young adults.

Skye’s review:

FORESHADOW, when it was first announced, was a limited-run publishing project spearheaded by Emily X.R. Pan and Nova Ren Suma. It featured short YA stories across a variety of genres, with monthly issues releasing throughout the entire year of 2019. Each issue had three stories—titled after a single phrase, “foreshadowing” the story that was to come—one of which would also be penned by a new writer, voices hand-selected by renowned authors such as Sabaa Tahir and Nicola Yoon.

Today, the thirteen handpicked stories are published in a wonderful anthology that I have the privilege of introducing here on the blog today after reading an early copy. And friends, friends, please trust me when I say this, and know that I do not mean it lightly: this anthology is everything I crave in a book, and it contains the best short YA fiction I have ever read in my entire life.

Digital ARC provided by Algonquin Books in exchange for an honest review. This doesn’t affect my opinion on the book in any way.

Friends, this book knocked my socks off in the best way possible. I am deeply in love with the concept of this book as a whole, as well as all the stories that it contains. Let me break my fondness for this book down to five reasons you should pick it up today! For each story, I will also be including a link to the story on the Foreshadow website, where they are available for free; if you read one and love it, I highly, highly encourage you to check out the full anthology because there’s also extra material in the book that gives so much context to how the stories work!

1. Stories that engage from the very first page and never let go

There’s only so much I can say without waxing too much poetic about them, but the quality of the stories is truly, truly remarkable. I was blown away and don’t fully know how to articulate the amount of joy and surprise that I experienced after reading each individual story and going, “Surely, the next one cannot top this?!” and being proven wrong, over and over and over again. There are just… no words.

From the very first sentences of Flight by Tanya S. Aydelott, a dreamlike selkie reimagining that opens the book, I was hooked. Page after page in this anthology pours over with thrilling hooks, compelling imagery, and satisfying conclusions Solace by Nora Elghazzawi gives us this unforgettable opening paragraph about a Muslim girl recovering from an eating disorder:

Laila alone. Laila sleeping and Laila weeping in the graveyard, Laila who starved herself thin as a Ramadan moon. All of these were me, and in a way, they are still me. They are the Lailas of my marrow, the roots I have carried to the tail end of seventeen.

All the way to the powerful, lyrical final story: Belly by Desiree S. Evans, which tells the story of a Black community threatened by white encroachment with just a tinge of magic from the rich history that permeates the land, which starts with the sentence “Jaima has known the truth most her life: the river is greedy.”

I’m certain I won’t have the words to fully articulate just how much each story resonated with me, all thirteen of them—but I have truly never read a more consistent and cohesive anthology, where every story feels like it irrevocably belongs in the collection.

2. The diverse line-up of emerging voices

The lineup of authors consists of all-new voices in the publishing industry (and doubtlessly, new favorites to look out for). A significant number of them are BIPOC authors—a diversity that reflects in the stories included in the anthology. There are Latinx stories here, Black stories, Asian stories; stories about sapphics and queerness, stories about the connection that can be found in interracial romance, about how devastating social issues can be but also how we can find resilience in the midst of it all, despite despite despite.

It’s no secret that we here at the Pond are passionate advocates for ownvoices stories and debut authors, and this book really does feel like a culmination of everything that we believe in. So if you’re looking for some fresh takes on how writing and stories can make space for all of us, this is definitely a book you want to check out as well.

3. A whole universe of worlds—from romance to fabulism to horror to sci-fi

The diversity of genres in this anthology, too! It was so delightful to have been treated to such a feast of settings and stakes that are all so wildly different from each other but all equally as captivating. A few standouts here include Sweetmeats by Linda Cheng (one of my personal favorites out of the collection), a darkly delicious YA fairytale horror reimagining of Hansel and Gretel about curses and friendship and how the latter can triumph over the former; Princess by Maya Prasad, an Indian sci-fi set in a utopia governed by a benevolent AI following a girl with a brain tumor and a mother with secrets; Break by Sophie Meridien is a sweet contemporary romance about two lovestruck teens whose lives become intertwined when they keep landing on each other during games of ‘spin the bottle’.

I was also surprised by how many stories in these anthology were stranger fabulist tales! Risk by Rachel Hylton follows a girl who turns into a lobster (yes, you read that right) as a metaphor for the awkward and empowering transformations that we go through during adolescence, while Escape by Tanvi Berwah features a family that owns a strange little forbidden pochette that turns out to have teeth of its own.

4. The insightful & illuminating craft essays

And of course, it would be remiss to talk about this anthology without bringing up the absolutely stellar craft essays that follow each story, all written by Emily X.R. Pan and Nova Ren Suma. They tie together the stories and give us a peek into the behind-the-scenes of an aspect of what each specific story did well, which was so inspiring to read as a writer myself!

I really love reading things that talk about just how intertwined reading and writing are as skills, and the craft essays allowed me to occupy the positions of reader, student, and writer all at once. I absolutely loved reading the editors’ breakdowns, from character connection to mood to moments of change in the narrative. There are also occasionally cool story prompts woven throughout the book too, to spark the creative imagination!

5. Teens making and breaking the world, and finding themselves in the process

Ultimately though, one of the biggest reasons why this anthology resonated so much with me was because all the stories explored the inner lives of teenagers, as the best YA stories do—all the heightened emotions and heartache of starting to see the world as it truly is, the experience of coming of age in bleak and volatile worlds but also finding hope to forge on to brighter futures.

From the literally-heartless girl feeling stuck on the magical island she lives on (with her very badass Ah Ma) in Fools by Gina Chen, to the lovelorn teen sapphics that stand on the edge of a potentially world-ending secret in Joanna Truman’s Glow, the stories explore the vibrant spectrum of what it’s like to be a teen again, to occupy spaces where love and romance are momentous and life-defining. There are also snapshots here of the struggle of growing up as modern teens in the here-and-now: a group of teens go on a tense roadtrip across the Mexican-American border in Pan Dulce by Flor Salcedo, a pair of Puerto Rican teens move to South Dakota in Resilient by Mayra Cuevas seeking a better life after Hurricane Maria, and Monsters by Adriana Marachlian follows an uprooted, monster-seeing Venezuelan girl in America who finds companionship in the strangest and most unlikely of places.

These stories all give riveting voice to the unique experiences of teens navigating their lives and identities and coming out stronger on the other side, and I can’t tell you how empowering and satisfying it was to follow the colorful cast of characters present here to their journeys’ end.


MY CONCLUSION: HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

Sprout the sparrow holding onto and looking down at a book.

There is so, so much to love in this anthology. Whether you’re here for the cute, contemporary romance, or if you’re here for the witchy horror and girls turning into lobsters, there is space here for everyone at Foreshadow‘s table. No matter what kind of reader you are, I’m nearly certain that you’ll find something to love and take home with you from this book.

It’s very evident to me that each short story was crafted with much, much love from the authors’ own lives, as was the book as a whole—the little follow-up essays from the editors are insightful and contain meaningful advice for the aspiring writer in all of us. Its most ardent wish is probably firstly, that you get lost exploring all these vastly different narratives, and secondly, that you pick up a pen and start telling your own inspired stories too.

Goodreads | Bookshop | Indiebound | Blackwells


Is this book for you?

Premise in a sentence:  An anthology of thirteen YA stories from new authors across all spectrums of genres, with short essays on craft following each story.

Perfect for: fans of YA fiction; lovers of stories with creative speculative elements, cute romance, commentary on social issues; lovers of short fiction; writers!

Think twice if: you’re not in the mood for weirder short fiction

Genres: young adult, contemporary, romance, speculative (fantasy, sci-fi, horror), fabulism & magical realism

Trigger/content warnings: parental loss (Flight), bullying (Risk), mild body horror/transformation (Sweetmeats), toxic romantic relationships (Escape), guns (Pan Dulce), recovery from disordered eating (Solace), cancer, tumors (Princess), minor racist character, challenged (Break), processing of animals for food (Resilient), sexual assault (Belly)


Let’s Discuss!
  • Have you read this anthology as well? What was your favorite story from it?
  • What do you think about short stories? Do you like them more than full-length novels? Do you have any favorites (outside of this anthology)?
  • What are your favorite anthologies?

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