Published: March 8th, 2016
Format: Hardcover, 354 pages, Candlewick Press
Rating: 3/5 stars
Summary (Goodreads): Criss-cross America — on dogsleds and ships, stagecoaches and trains — from pirate ships off the coast of the Carolinas to the peace, love, and protests of 1960s Chicago. Join fifteen of today’s most talented writers of young adult literature on a thrill ride through history with American girls charting their own course. They are monsters and mediums, bodyguards and barkeeps, screenwriters and schoolteachers, heiresses and hobos. They’re making their own way in often-hostile lands, using every weapon in their arsenals, facing down murderers and marriage proposals. And they all have a story to tell.
Anthologies are hard for me to review. There are always very strong stories, but it’s hard to overlook the weak ones, and then there are the ones that I can’t even remember. This one was no different.
What I really liked about this book is how diverse the stories and their characters are. Some are working girls, some stay at home. Some like boys, some like girls, some don’t have time for romance. Some are in privilege, some don’t know where their next meal is coming from. It was nice to have female characters that stood up for themselves, something that is becoming much more common in fiction.
The historical aspect of this book was also very interesting. From the Wild West to Alaska to California gold mines to World War One to World War Two to the Civil Rights Movement, I learned something new through a character. Plus, since women in history have not been in the spotlight as much as men, reading about these girls who had to dress up as boys or who worked in factories during the wars was pretty great.
Again, anthologies are not my favorite thing because of how easily one story can weaken the entire collection. Out of the 15 stories, there were probably 5 or 6 that I wasn’t pleased with/forgot about shortly after reading them. It’s the biggest problem I have: not all of the stories can be amazing. So while most of these were entertaining, well-written and diverse, not all of them kept my attention or elicited any attachment to a character.
I don’t normally read anthologies (although I’ve read three in the past few months), I love novellas (like The Bane Chronicles or The Assassin’s Blade) because of the central characters and writing styles (that’s a hint for my next review ;)). If you’re a fan of feminist/diverse writing, I would recommend this, but know that you’re not going to like all of the stories.