About the Book
- Marissa Meyer
- Elise Bryant
- Elizabeth Eulberg
- Leah Johnson
- Anna-Marie McLemore
- Sandhya (Lily) Menon
- Julie Murphy
- Caleb Roehrig
- Sarah Winifred Searle
- Abigail Hing Wen
Cover Story: Who Are You?
Dream Makers: “Shooting Stars” by Marissa Meyers, “Zora in the Spotlight” by Elise Bryant, “Liberty” by Anna-Marie McLemore
Heartbreakers: “Auld Acquaintance” by Caleb Roehrig, “Bye Bye, Piper Berry” by Julie Murphy
Love Takers: “In the Blink of an Eye” by Elizabeth Eulberg, “The Idiom Algorithm” by Abigail Hing Wen
Bonus Factors: Sampler Platter, Nostalgia
Break Glass In Case Of: Hopeless Romanticism
Cover Story: Who Are You?
This is a very staid cover that feels like it’s trying to be classy. I’m getting more fantasy vibes than contemporary, and it’s hovering on that line of: am I YA or Adult?
Are you in love with love? Do you want to skip the pretense of a book being about anything other than that liminal moment when two people’s lips touch for the very first time? If so, you’re gonna love this collection. Each story focuses on a specific, well-known trope in the romance world, from being stuck inside a store overnight, to sharing a bed, to realizing the love of your life has been standing beside you this whole time—or, at least, for the entire time you’ve been in high school.
“Shooting Stars” (One Bed) by Marissa Meyers
Misty and the rest of her class are going on a trip to Yellowstone and they’re taking the train to get there, so immediately this story intrigued me more so than others because I also took an overnight Amtrak train trip in October. It’s like I was there! What ensues is a series of moments between Misty and her crush where he needs a place to sleep in the train, the wilderness, and a hotel. The writing and pacing of this short were really well done and kicked off the stronger back-half of the anthology.
“Zora in the Spotlight” (The Grand Romantic Gesture) by Elise Bryant
I was told by the synopsis for this book that authors would be turning tropes on their head, but I didn’t really see much of that until this story. Zora is wearing something similar to a super popular girl at their prom, and consequently gets a grand romantic gesture directed AT her that isn’t FOR her. Bryant managed to pack a lot into this short story and executed it effectively. I don’t want to spoil too much, but I had great fun imagining the way this grand gesture went and could totally see it playing out in a mid-2000s teen movie.
“Liberty” (The Makeover) by Anna-Marie McLemore
Similar to Bryant, McLemore took their classic trope of “The Makeover” and freshened it up. After looking too “Latina” the last time she tried out for the cheerleading squad, Ximena earned her spot as a flyer by doing things like wearing clothes that flatten her ass and straightening her curly ponytail. But to her shock, the gorgeous teenage YouTube beauty guru she used to follow (who always encouraged her viewers to embrace their diversity) transfers to the school and immediately gets on the squad. I thought the cheer setting was fun and Camila and Ximena’s moments together worked.
“Auld Acquaintance” (The Best Friend Love Epiphany) by Caleb Roehrig
Ollie and Garrett attend a NYE lock-in at their high-school and Ollie realizes he’s in love with his BFF after a hot jock says he wants to kiss Garrett at midnight. My biggest issue with this story, aside from the writing feeling a bit pedestrian, is that Ollie is majorly annoying. Their dramatic argument that led to the declaration of love left me feeling cold.
“Bye Bye, Piper Berry” (The Fake Relationship) by Julie Murphy
I also didn’t like Piper Berry, which is making me realize why these two are my least favorite stories. Piper is angry her boyfriend cheated on her, so she pretends to date their mutual friend, Gabe, who’s always been in love with her (but also knew the friend was cheating??). At one point she’s in the front row of the ex’s school play macking all over Gabe in an effort to distract the ex from doing a good job and that’s just rude on multiple levels—you don’t mess with the theatre, plus she doesn’t even think about how crappy that is to the rest of the cast. There’s righteous anger and then there’s being a dick.
“In the Blink of an Eye” (Trapped in a Confined Space) by Elizabeth Eulberg
This was less about romance and more about realizing you’ve been a jerk to your friend and her boyfriend who you saw first but are feel salty he liked her more. So…kudos to Morgan for the growth? I guess the author DID flip the script on the trope, but it didn’t exactly fit with the tone of the other stories.
“The Idiom Algorithm” (Class Warfare) by Abigail Hing Wen
I’m not really sure if I’d define “class warfare” as a romance trope (I feel like maybe they were going for “the other side of the tracks”?). This had some promise but the story structure was…odd? Tan’s exchange-student girlfriend, Rebecca, is embarrassed for him to meet her mega-rich family, and then he employs a fancy algorithm to look for her after she disappears. I got whiffs of a Paper Towns obsession over a girl who isn’t what you thought, and I didn’t like the
stalker male protagonist there or here.
Bonus Factor: Sampler Platter
This anthology features quite a few popular YA authors, so if you were ever unsure whether or not you’d enjoy a writer’s work and didn’t want to devote an entire book to figuring it out, I’d say this could give you a pretty good inkling. I’ve read 5 of the 10 authors before this, and there were a few who got me interested enough to want to pick up their full-length works.
Bonus Factor: Nostalgia
Who doesn’t remember a time when they were wondering, often in vain, whether their crush liked them back? Or their first kiss? There’s a moment in Meyer’s “Shooting Stars” when Misty ends up squished next to her crush in a group photo and she just hopes they never have to move—man, that took me right back to similar “I’m in too deep” crush moments from my teenage years.
Break Glass In Case Of: Hopeless Romanticism
I really should probably stop reading anthologies because I usually find myself going “meh” by the end, but like any dogged, hopeless romantic, I just keep dusting myself off and trying again. Some managed to hit the right balance of humor, warmth, and sweetness in their stories, while others left me longing for the single life. Unfortunately, in a sea of contemporary settings, all ten stories started to feel a bit same-y. I think this is a great anthology for younger readers or those who want to sample a bunch of popular authors of today in quick succession.
Need even more new love in your life? Check out the Meet Cute anthology!
Surprisingly, Serendipity did not feature any true love triangles, so, to remedy that, go read Three Sides of a Heart.
For a fun-in-the-sun themed anthology on love, read Summer Days and Summer Nights and I dare you not to belt out, “Those su-uh-uh-mmer niiiiiiiiiights!” every time you talk about it.
FTC Full Disclosure: I received my free review copy from Feiwel and Friends. I received neither money nor peanut butter cups in exchange for this review. Serendipity is available now.