Summary from Goodreads:
Keep faith, in the broad sense of the word. It doesn’t have to be a religion, unless you want it to be. It doesn’t have to speak about the universe, unless you want it to. It doesn’t have to be about anyone but yourself. Keep faith, in other planets and other houses; be it in the face of danger, grief, or while you spread your arms and laugh. Keep faith the same way you keep hope, bright and shiny, ever present. Keep faith in all your queer, beautiful self. Because you deserve it.
This is an anthology of 14 short stories, by 14 queer authors, where faith and queerness intersect. Incidental, purposeful, we-exist-and-that’s-why queerness. And faith meaning whatever you want it to mean.
Disclaimer: I received a free ebook copy of this book from the editor in exchange for an honest review. This in no way influenced my feelings on the book or my review.
Content warning (straight from the table of contents): verbal cissexism, danger of physical harm due to an accident, mentions of death and blood, temporary death of a character, mentions of domestic violence, grief over parental death, and mentions of death
Okay, I had this book at four stars right after I finished it but after I thought on it for a long time I am knocking it down to three stars (which is more like three and a half? three point seventy-five? listen I’m conflicted). I feel like most of my issues with this anthology are “it’s not you, it’s me” and that makes me super sad because y’all honestly have no idea how much I wanted to love every minute I spent reading this. To keep a long story short, I will just attempt to do my typical breakdown of what I liked and didn’t like, but this time we’re going to start with the negatives because I want to end on a positive note:
#1: I had very very high expectations
This is the explanation for the “it’s not you, it’s me” thing. I had such high expectations, like, they were through the roof. I am not sure why, I am really not, other than I get so excited and happy when I hear about things that deal with both sexuality and religion. Anyways, I had very very high expectations and not all of them were met. Like, the majority of them were not met. This is entirely on me of course, the authors owe me nothing and I completely understand that, but the whole time I was reading this I felt a little disappointed and it really influenced my reading experience so I wanted to put it in this review.
#2: Some of the stories seemed to have little to nothing to do with faith
This could once again just be an Arin thing, but for a collection of stories dedicated to talking about queerness and faith, there were some stories that had almost nothing to do with faith. There were some where that was the entire point of the story, but other were just, not about that? There is one in particular I think about as I write this point that was more so a list of tips, none of which had anything to do with faith? Once again, this could just be that I was missing a deeper meaning in some of these stories, but to me some of these stories didn’t fit into this collection as well as they should have.
#3: There were a lot of under explained and underdeveloped sci-fi stories
This is once again most likely just a “Arin doesn’t like sci-fi” thing, but there were so many sci-fi stories in here and almost all of them confused me. There was one where a main character was a plant and I am honestly still so confused. I just wish that the stories from this genre were a little longer that way there was more time for explanation because it was very disorienting to have no idea what was going on.
#1: How diverse this collection is
This collection deals with so many different religions and so many different aspects of the queer identity and it was so so good. These stories took place all over the world, and sometimes out of this world, and they dealt with so many different things and I am not over it, nor am I likely to ever me.
#2: This collection is so important
I feel like I just need to stress this, especially since I have a few negative thoughts about it, but this anthology is so so important. I mean, an entire anthology dedicated to discussing how parts of the LGBT+ identity interact with various religions and faiths from own voices authors? It is so important. I don’t want to seem overly dramatic or anything, but this collection could change lifes and I don’t want anything I have said in this review to undercut that in the slightest. Just because it wasn’t a perfect five star read for me doesn’t mean it won’t be for you, or that you shouldn’t consider checking it out yourself.
#3: Whatever She Wants by Kess Costales
This short story is the last in the collection and it is the reason I rated the whole thing four stars at first, it really boosted my entire opinion of the collection. This story was very relatable to me personally, it featured a Catholic girl who likes girls who has a major crush on her best friend. I’m not Catholic and the only crush I have ever had was on a girl I was barely friends with, but the story as a whole was so so relatable. At one point she dates a boy because he seems safe and she thinks it can’t hurt and wow, high school Arin and her one boyfriend really popped off at that point. It is just so so good and ugh, I loved this story. Get the collection so you can read this story and we can rave about it together, please.
While I had a few problems with this collection, it is still so good and so important and I really really want to promote it as much as I can. Don’t be put off my few issues as overall it is a great anthology that tackles such hard topics. You can buy it here and all of the proceeds go to help someone in need!