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Begin, End, Begin: A #LoveOzYA Anthology

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The YA event of the year. Bestsellers. Award-winners. Superstars. This anthology has them all. With brilliantly entertaining short stories from beloved young adult authors Amie Kaufman, Melissa Keil, Will Kostakis, Ellie Marney, Jaclyn Moriarty, Michael Pryor, Alice Pung, Gabrielle Tozer, Lili Wilkinson and Danielle Binks, this all-new collection will show the world exactly how much there is to love about Aussie YA.

322 pages, Paperback

First published May 1, 2017

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About the author

Danielle Binks

5 books114 followers
Danielle Binks is a Melbourne-based author, and literary agent.

In 2017, she edited and contributed to Begin, End, Begin, an anthology of new Australian young adult writing inspired by the #LoveOzYA movement, which won the ABIA Book of the Year for Older Children (Ages 13+).

The Year the Maps Changed was Danielle's debut middle-grade novel, and The Monster of Her Age will be her first foray into YA, coming 2021.

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5 stars
200 (26%)
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350 (46%)
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166 (21%)
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30 (3%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 187 reviews
Profile Image for Jeann (Happy Indulgence) .
1,006 reviews3,599 followers
June 13, 2017
OMG this anthology makes me so proud of the amazing diversity and talent of our #LoveOzYA authors because I loved each and every one of the stories! I'm not usually one for anthologies, but all of the stories here were so good that they left me wanting more.

I loved how the stories covered a variety of genres, from the sci-fi space exploration ones, the fairytale inspired and the more slice of life contemporaries. Each story had something to add and contemplate when it came to the coming of age, and it really makes me appreciate what the authors had to offer.

Full review to come!
Profile Image for K..
3,683 reviews1,007 followers
March 31, 2020
Trigger warnings: explosions, bullying, refugees, violence, blood, animal death.

I stand by everything I said last time. This is a delight from start to finish and I love it.

4.5 stars.

For those of you who aren't aware, this is a collection of short stories by some of Australia's best known YA authors, all writing on the subject of beginnings and endings. A bunch of my favourite authors are represented here, and this collection did not disappoint.

Brief thoughts on each of the stories as follows:

One Small Step by Amie Kaufman
Hella cute, like a YA lesbian version of The Martian.

I Can See The Ending by Will Kostakis
Super fun concept, but not my favourite.

In a Heartbeat by Alice Pung

First Casualty by Michael Pryor
Basically just throwing shade at the Federal Government. YAAAAAS.

Sundays by Melissa Keil

Missing Persons by Ellie Marney

Oona Underground by Lili Wilkinson
Totally not what I expected from Lili Wilkinson. Still not sure if fantasy or magical realism or straight up contemporary???

The Feeling from Over Here by Gabrielle Tozer
Canberra + super awkward encounters on buses + a band called The Olivia Bensons = I. AM. THERE.

Last Night at the Mount Solemn Observatory by Danielle Binks

Competition Entry #349 by Jaclyn Moriarty
Hands down my favourite of the anthology. Fabulous teen voice, hilarious as hell, and A+ family dynamic. L.O.V.E. I.T.

Basically? They were all fabulous.
Profile Image for Zitong Ren.
504 reviews153 followers
September 11, 2020
This was just a really nice collection of short stories by Australian authors, most of which I have at least heard of if not have read books from before. I don’t have much experience reading or reviewing short stories, but essentially, I was pretty engaged with most of them and they were all pretty fun to read.
Profile Image for lauren ♡.
538 reviews108 followers
May 10, 2017

Quick rundown of ratings:

One Small Step by Aime Kaufman - ★★★★★ - F/F romance on Mars? YES PLEASE.
In a Heartbeat by Alice Pung - ★★ - I appreciated the sentiment of this. Teen pregnancy is definitely something that deserves better rep, but there was SO MUCH GIRL HATE AND RACISM? NO THANK YOU.
First Casualty by Michael Pryor - ★★★ - Kinda interesting. Kinda dry. Super spacey with interesting political themes.
Sundays by Melissa Keil - ★★★ - Characters were kinda annoying, but redeemed themselves and have really stuck with me. I LOVED the writing style.
The Feeling from Over Here by Gabrielle Tozer - ★★★★ - MC was biracial. This bought up a lot of feelings I wanted to forget about school ??? Loved the concept of the bus trip. Loved that the ending was realistic.
Last Night at the Mount Solemn Observatory by Danielle Binks - ★★★★ - Deaf character. Might have cried a little. Really related to the themes of wanting to get out of the town your living in. The ending made this go from a 3 to a 4.
Competition Entry #349 by Jaclyn Moriarty - ★★★★ - THIS WAS WEIRD AS HELL? BUT I REALLY LIKED IT! Definitely one of the more unique time travelling stories I've read.

Profile Image for TL .
1,823 reviews35 followers
February 25, 2018
With a few exceptions (see ratings below), I really enjoyed reading these. Some I would have loved to see continued while a few I felt were too short for me to really connect with them.

I hadn't heard of most of these authors beforehand... the main reason I picked this up was because of Ellie Marney :) (Highly recommend her stuff). Will definitely be reading her story again.

Will I check out more from these authors? One day:).
One Small Step... by Amie Kaufman
3.5 stars, that was cute:)

'You have a letter from Harvard,' my mum said, standing at the kitchen counter and tearing open a foil packet for lunch.
'I didn't know the postal service made it all the way to Mars,' Dad chimed in, raising his hands in pre-emptive self-defence. He's been making that joke at least since I was born, and presumably longer-- so that's a minimum seventeen years in circulation, or nine, if you're counting in Martian.

I can see the ending by Will Kostakis - 4 stars

"It's different, when you know it's ending. You have the chance to look at it properly, really study it. Whatever was weird at first that became normal becomes weird again. You start to miss it when you haven't quite lost it yet. And you have to work hard to stay present, really appreciate it, which only leads to more proper looking, more studying and more weirdness."

In a Heartbeat by Alice Pung - 3.5 stars
Ha, you can legitimately have the last word in every argument, you can use the excuse we've all been using with our parents since we were thirteen: 'I didn't ask to be born! In your case, you don't know how true that is. It feels weird, writing to something that exists but doesn't yet,if you know what I mean. "

First Casualty by Michael Pryor - 3.5 stars

The trouble with advertising was that a million other bozos were also advertising for people to share costs on the traditional post-graduation planet hopping tour--schoolies time, right?--and they had more to offer than I did.

Sundays by Melissa Keil - 3.5 stars
This is how it goes.
I am standing in a corner, 'cause I always seem to find myself standing in corners. Not in the center of the sweaty, heaving dancers, and not in the back sunroom with the stoners and smokers. Definitely not too close to the front door--that would imply that I'm eager to escape, or eager to be seen. "

Missing Persons by Ellie Marney : 4 stars ... so nice to visit with Rachel and Mycroft again:)

When you stand out in the front yard of your family's dilapidated white stucco house and look forward, and all you can see is a street view of more dilapidated houses, with a panorama of traffic, and warehouses, and power lines above and beyond that... it's safe to assume that your home is not what it was anymore. "

Oona Underground by by Lili Wilkinson - 2.5 stars

Oona stands at the mouth of darkness, her hair full of sunset and her mouth full of smiles. She belongs to the day, to fresh air and warm breezes.

The Feeling from Over Here by Gabrielle Tozer - 3.5 stars
Blisters burn the back of Lucy's ankles. She thuds along the footpath parallel to Northbourne Avenue, a veil of sweat decorating her forehead, but she doesn't bother to wipe it away. Turns out shoes fresh from the box and a school uniform aren't the best choices for sprinting through the streets of Canberra.

Last Night at the Mount Solemn observatory by Danielle Binks - 3.5 stars

The first word I ever learned was King , for my brother.

Fingertips and thumb to the top of my head in a circle, like a crown
Most babies learn survival signs first--drink, food, up, and hurt --words that get them what they want.

Competition Entry #349 by Jaclyn Moriarty - 3 stars

To enter, tell us in twenty-five words or less why YOU deserve to win an exclusive time-travel package consisting of five (5) ten-minute Time Journeys, return flights to Sydney from your nearest capital city, accommodation at the Novotel on Darling Harbour, and transfers to and from the Time Travel Agency (TM)

(my copy is 322 pages)
Profile Image for Casey.
391 reviews97 followers
June 27, 2017
First story: One Small Step by Amie Kaufman

Seriously how do you review a short story! It was cute, had an interracial love interest and lesbian main character. Seriously give me 300 more pages of adventures 20 is NOT ENOUGH I SAY!

Amie has an amazing way with words to get me loving a character after 20 pages 10 even! Witch craft I say 😂

Second story: I know how this ends by Will Kostakis

Sorry for repeating my self but IT WAS TO SHORT AND I WANT MORE
These shorts are going to be the death of me. Featuring Adam and Nina who work in the same food court, becoming friends by splitting healthy smoothies and greasy burgers until it's all about to come to an end when Adam loses his weekend shifts.

All I can say is I loved the whole thing and I was not expecting Adam to be able to do the thing he does (look it's hard not to spoil a 20 page story sorry for the mystery wording)

Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee I need to write a billion mini reviews but this whole anthology is AMAZING!!!! Get on it people its so good XD
Profile Image for Ryan Buckby.
652 reviews88 followers
June 29, 2017
if you are looking to read any samples of aussies authors this book is a perfect start for you to get into some authors that we have to offer. Australia has some of the best story tellers in the world and they do go unnoticed so if you ever wanna read more from aussie authors this book would be perfect for you.

One Small Step: Amie Kaufman: 4.5 stars

I can see the ending: Will Kostakis: 4 stars

In a Heartbeat: Alice Pung: 3 stars

First Casualty: Michael Pryor: 2.5 stars

Sundays: Melissa Keil: 2.5 stars

Mission Persons: Ellie Marney: 3 stars

Oona Underground: Lili Wilkinson: 3.5 stars

The Feeling From Over Here: Gabrielle Tozer: 4 stars

Last Night at the Mount Solemn Observatory: 3.5 stars

Competition Entry #349: Jaclyn Moriarty: 2.5 stars

however i did enjoy some stories more then i did other stories, this was the first set of short stories that i have ever read because i don't like short stories to begin with. If some of these had been a little big longer than maybe i would have enjoyed them more.
Profile Image for ALPHAreader.
1,116 reviews
February 13, 2017
Total bias, but no BS :-)

I loved working with these authors, in a collection that celebrates Aussie YA - my reading home.
Profile Image for Alison.
575 reviews137 followers
February 7, 2017
I really just loved the experience of reading this- coming back to some of my favourite Aussie writers (and discovering new ones) with new short stories to read is such a wonderful time. They're all so creative and fun!
Profile Image for Ellie.
575 reviews2,120 followers
January 9, 2018
↠ 4 stars

Many thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy of this lovely collection of stories!

This book is adorable guys. The stories are incredible; the idea behind it is touching (we all remember the #LoveOzYA hashtag from last year, right?) I will admit I don’t read anthologies much and whilst I do enjoy them (the YA Christmas-themed anthology My True Love Gave to Me by Stephanie Perkins is great, just saying), I occasionally have trouble investing in the stories because they are short stories and their length can hinder how I empathise with a character etc. But nevertheless Begin, End, Begin was amazing.

Think of the Aussie authors you know. If you’re like me, you can probably only list a few: Amie Kaufman, Meagan Spooner and Jay Kristoff. Amie Kaufman is the only Aussie author I knew in this anthology; this rest are unfamiliar to me. And I love that I don’t know them, I love that there’s new brilliant authors out there whose stories I loved and whose other books I now want to explore.

Onto the stories:

One Small Step . . . by Amie Kaufman (4/5 stars) – This story is basically about gay girls in a community on Mars, what else do you want?

I Can See The Ending by Will Kostakis (3.5/5 stars) – This one was interesting for me because of the fact that the narrator was a boy (honestly I need to read more YA books narrated by males), and also that this narrator could see where his relationships would end before they even started, but I found it a little on the long side.

In A Heartbeat by Alice Pung (3.5/5 stars) – A very real concept, focusing on teenage pregnancy, but from an Asian perspective. Also Luis (the love interest) was said to be “the lovechild of a Korean boy-band singer and Disney’s Aladdin” and honestly, I can get behind that.

First Casualty by Michael Pyror (4/5 stars) – Space!! A small spaceship crew (‘small’ being literally 2 people) end up saving an alien race who are really cute.

Sundays by Melissa Keil (3.5/5 stars) – A contemporary slice-of-life story set over the course of one night a at a house party where changes come and go in the lives of a group of close-knit teenagers.

Missing Persons by Ellie Marney (5/5 stars) – I have no clue why this one really clicked with me, but it did. I liked the characters (Mycroft especially) and how the protagonist struggled to adapt to life in the city after coming from the country. Also I liked how it didn’t end with a confirmed romance between the protagonist and the guy, or whether it would remain platonic.

[EDIT: Ooooooo so this story actually seems more like a prequel/spin-off; she has a set of stories based off these characters! Oh my god and they’re based off Sherlock, excuse me whilst I scream *casually adds to Amazon basket*]

Oona Underground by Lili Wilkinson (5/5 stars) – A wonderful and original short story about two girls (one of whom is in love with the other) who go seeking the Witch Queen in the (magical) sewers to find out their destinies.

The Feeling From Over Here by Gabrielle Tozer (4/5 stars) – an incredibly sweet story set over the course of one night as the heroine takes an overnight bus from Canberra to Melbourne (a drive of almost 10 hours, which is crazy and I can’t believe how big Australia is). On the bus she runs back into her old crush, Cameron Webber, but things ended badly between them and there’s a lot things left unsaid. However, 10 hours on a bus is the perfect way to resolve them.

Last Night at the Mountain Solemn Observatory by Danielle Binks (5/5) – the one thing that stood out about this one was the fact that the older brother was deaf. The other thing was that it was about space and how vast space is, which honestly I find incredible and awe-inspiring. Space is crazy cool.

Competition Entry #349 by Jaclyn Moriaty (4/5) – this story is about time travel agency. Essentially the heroine goes back to find out why her crush is avoiding her, and ends up fixing multiple family problems at the same time.

A version of this review is also available on my blog (faerieontheshelf.wordpress.com)!
Profile Image for Sarah.
215 reviews19 followers
June 30, 2017
Can we talk about how great Australian authors are? I don't remember the last time I was able to witness so much diversity in one book. Sexuality, time travel, family, identity. This collection of short stories has something for all readers, all connected by its overarching theme of "beginning, end, beginning." A really wholesome read. I don't think I can properly address this without going through it all story by story with mini reviews.

One Small Step
Kaufman offers a really interesting fantasy landscape where the main character Zaida, the first child born on Mars comes to terms with feelings of love. The changes in time were sometimes really hard to follow, but overall it was a really interesting and wholesome read.

I Can See the Ending
Imagine having to weigh up whether or not love was worth it if you could see the end? Adam must do this. I loved the psychic element, and identified strongly with Adam, "my life as I know it is scrawled on yellow notes and stuck in vague chronological order." A keen encouragement to live in the present.

In a Heartbeat
Captured by the beginning, Pung offers the second hand account of Kim talking to her future baby. The tone is realistic of a teenager, and explores the control youths have over their own lives. Interesting and honest.

First Causality
Set somewhere in a space dock, to be honest this was the only story I didn't fully comprehend. Following Damien and Tekura's relationship, and abilities, it explores a series of political human rights messages and offers lessons of identity and belonging. Good for strong science-fiction readers!

Cam and Claire break up and the entire group dynamic falls apart before Gabrielle's ideas. Set in an incredibly relatable party atmosphere, Keil's story was one of my favourites. It did feel a bit old-school in some areas, but as a contemporary reader, I enjoyed reading again about the control we exert over our lives and how we should take every opportunity.

Missing Persons
Moving to a new town and beginning school for the first time is difficult and Rachel indicates this as she moves right into North Coburg. Adapting to people and making friends, I felt like this could be a much larger story than it was, honestly sweet.

Oona Underground
I honestly loved this story so much. The fantastical magical elements as Oona and Meg search for the Witch who will tell them their futures was beautifully written. I loved the imagery and the amazing outcome of the story. This was a real treasure to read and I'd trade it to the Witch for my own telling.

The Feeling From Over Here
Lucy is on a bus to Melbourne to see her sisters when she runs into Cameron, who kissed her and then dissed her. Tozer offers a really understandable and heartbreaking lessons in self-growth and safety. It was really wonderful, but sometimes I felt jarred by the times mentioned.

Last Night at the Mount Solemn Observatory
Hands down my favourite. You can't go wrong with Auslan (Australian Sign Language) and acceptance between friends and siblings. (Legitimately you should have seen my face when I read the sign language description! Research has been done!) King is about to travel overseas and Bowie isn't sure how to cope with that. This exploration of loneliness and communication had description goals and the most wholesome story of sibling love I have encountered. Shout out to Binks for her contribution and editing skills.

Competition Entry #349
With a casual tone and comedic output. Accidentally travelling back to the first time she kissed Noah Brackman, the protagonist highlights why she should win five ten minute time journey's after already experiencing time travel through school. What's the point in travelling to the past though if you can't change it? Moriarty provides an interesting and lighthearted story directly speaking to the readers.

Overall this collection is really beautiful and I had no idea I was going to love it so much. Each story had it's own impact and reminding me of things I need to employ or look into in my own life which I think is really important of novels. But even more so, it was written by a series of wonderful Australians that highlight that we have strengths and relatability right here, and we are not going to let our voices go unheard.

4.5/5 Stars.
Profile Image for Michael Earp.
Author 4 books34 followers
March 2, 2017
This is a delightful collection of short stories that really is a celebration of Australian YA and its diversity. There's some space travel, time travel, magic realism and clairvoyance, but there's also plenty of contemporary realism. But, running through them all there's the precipice of what next, where to now, and new beginnings. Personal highlights are Lili Wilkinson's and Jaclyn Moriaty but each one has its appeal. Love that there's two #AusQueerYA stories too!
Profile Image for Danielle Binks.
Author 5 books114 followers
February 28, 2017
Total bias, but no BS :-)

I loved working with these authors, in a collection that celebrates Aussie YA - my reading home.
Profile Image for rachel, x.
1,718 reviews856 followers
May 9, 2017
Average rating = 3.1 stars

One Small Step by Amie Kaufman (★★★★☆):

Naww! This was such a sweet story. Usually, I am not a fan of sci-fi stories but I actually enjoyed the Mars setting. Kaufman did a great job of developing her characters over such a short page span, to the point where I would happily pick up a whole book about Zaida and Keiko's earthly adventures. Also, yay for all the diversity!

I Can See The Ending by Will Kostakis (★★☆☆☆):

I did not enjoy this one, unfortunately. It had a great premise (psychic powers) but I strongly disliked almost all of the characters. The MC was rather bland and Nina was the type of person to make fun of fairy lights because they seemed to indie and hipster... so kind of a Manic Pixie Dream Girl who made fun of anything too 'mainstream'. Ugh. I wasn't a fan. I did really like Sophie though.

In a Heartbeat by Alice Pung (★☆☆☆☆):

Well, that was awful. I tend to avoid books about pregnancies and babies in general, but it was not the plot or themes that I didn't gel with. No, it was the characters. My God, they were so judgemental, racist and just... not nice people? There was also so much girl-on-girl hate (including 'popular girl' shaming, which you know I loathe). I could not deal with them. On top of that, Luis was a dickhead and I did not feel sorry for him in the slightest.

First Casualty by Michael Pryor (★★★★☆):

This was definitely the short story I was most looking forward to (it's Michael Pryor after all) and I am happy to say I was not disappointed. It was very sci-fi and while that's definitely not my choice genre, somehow, it just worked. In fact, I would happily read a whole novel set in this world. I adored seeing aliens that were actually, well, alien. I've read too many cringy paranormal romances with human-looking aliens before so it was nice to explore another race in a genuine way. I loved the themes. I loved the characters, although it was a little more plot-focused than I am used to and as a whole, I thought it was quite realistic and wonderful.

Sundays by Melissa Keil (★★★★★):

ABSOLUTELY PERFECT! I adored this story so, so much. God, I am literally in love with the characters and their dynamics. It captured the beginnings/endings theme perfectly. I thought all of the characters were wonderful and loveable. I shipped the romance. I loved Gabe. I loved Lou. I loved them all. Loved, loved, loved.

Missing Persons by Ellie Marney (★★★★★):

Yessssss! I love friendship-y stories like this. There was no romance, just people meeting, connecting and genuinely liking to be in each other's company. It was so sweet. I thought the depth of characterisation was phenomenal for such a short story. Both Rachel and Mycroft were so fleshed out and three-dimensional. I obviously adored Mycroft - with his name, I also assume there was meant to be some sort of Sherlock thing happening? He was dorky and blunt and hilarious and just everything I love in a character.

Oona Underground by Lili Wilkinson (★☆☆☆☆):

Yeah, no. This was weird and not in a good way. I didn't get anything from it. I thought the characters were underdeveloped and odd (again, not in a good way). I did not connect to either of them and I definitely didn't ship it. The magic and witchery was so weird. Was it meant to be an Alice in Wonderland retelling? I don't know. Definitely not my thing.

The Feeling from Over Here by Gabrielle Tozer (★★★☆☆):

Meh. I didn't dislike this one but it was a bit... nothing. I don't know. I did like Cam. He was sweet and genuine, the typical 'good guy' from the love triangle trope but in the best way possible. I was not a massive fan of how snappy and kinda judgemental the female MC was (oops, I forgot her name). She was one of those people that think that if you seem popular and carefree, you obviously have no problems in your life. We all know that's bullshit so... she kind of irritated me. All in all, I just didn't get enough from this story. I wanted more feels, more... something.

Last Night at the Mount Solemn Observatory by Danielle Binks (★★★☆☆):

Well, that was incredibly depressing. I was not a massive fan of it but I did like that it focused on sibling relationships. It also really nailed the theme. It captured that awful sadness that comes from things changing and people moving on. I don't think I would read an entire novel from these characters' POVs because I was not a big fan of the writing style but it was by no means a bad story.

Competition Entry #349 by Jaclyn Moriarty (★★★☆☆):

Clever idea but I was not a fan of the juvenile tone. I liked the consept a lot but, again, there was just something missing from this one.
Profile Image for Aimee Ferguson.
194 reviews21 followers
February 19, 2018
This review can also be found here, on my blog!

Short story anthologies are notoriously hard to rate, because each of the stories kinda needs to be considered alone, so I'm going to do just that. Overall, though, stories like that make me pretty proud to call #OzYA my YA. I mean my country has got some pretty incredible voices, and honestly they deserve a lot more attention...

One Small Step by Amie Kaufman - ✩✩✩✩
Okay but this was a pretty incredible way to kick off the stories - first kid born on Mars and the decisions she has to make about her future. Also a super super cute F/F romance, and a lil bit of action and science to round it out. I liked how diverse the world on Mars was, while also being a pretty realistic and limited space colony. I think one of my favourite parts, outside of the very very cute relationship, was the media attention? I think that's pretty much exactly how we'd act to a kid born on Mars, and I liked that she both appreciate and resented the attention. It was a pretty sweet way to ground the story while keeping it also, well, not on Earth. Really need to read more of Amie's stuff if this is anything to go by (and not just cause our names are kinda close). I only wish the time shifts had been a little clearer, cause I think I kept missing them and that made the story confusing af at first.

I Can See the Ending by Will Kostakis - ✩✩✩✩✩
Honestly??? I loved this! I've got a bit of a soft spot for stories that are very rooted in reality (I mean you could practically feel the grease of the food court, and Adam's house - especially his room) with a touch of something not so real (or at least as far as we know...). I just really really liked the balance this story had, and the way his power was brought into it. It had just enough limitations and real life consequences to make it compelling but also fun? I dunno, I think that's a wicked sort of power. I liked the way it was presented too, with us given little snippets of what he knew and what he did not, and how the others in his family had controlled it. I think the whole message is pretty sweet, Also 11/10 mum and son relationship.

In a Heartbeat by Alice Pung - ✩✩✩
This was pretty cute, and I really liked the voice of the narrator. Again, it was grounded quite strongly in reality, and felt very young teenage girl in the voice. I mean it captured that high school feeling and that drama very well. But the issue wasn't suuuper compelling to me, I guess in part because I'm not religious, so one of the compelling drives for the characters actions was lost on me. (Also, weirdly tend to be a little more pragmatic when it comes to these things?) Maybe if we'd had a little more to develop the story, and really build up the decision. Make her reasons a little clearer beyond a sense that she shouldn't abort.

First Casualty by Michael Pryor -✩✩
I did really like some elements of this but it was quite heavy handed. Like I absolutely think the message is an important one (cough cough Australian government get your shit together cough cough) but some of the discussions between characters about the issues did not feel real. Like they'd make good tweets, but they don't sound like something people actually say casually. I think I'm going to reiterate what I've seen other reviewers say - that this would have much stronger as a full novel. I get that short story doesn't really lend a lot of space to expand on issues like refugee aliens, and so it lacks a bit of the heart it needs to make this really hit home. Which is a pity, because the world was pretty cool, and it could have made for a very pointed commentary if we'd been able to really connect with these aliens. That makes me seem a little callous, but I guess I was kinda a little iffy, and then the political talk really turned me off. I guess that might just be me!! Also, the relationship didn't reaaally grab me... which I think was another thing that could have been really good if it were longer? It had the bones for it, it was just a little jumped.

Sundays by Melissa Keil - ✩✩✩✩✩
OMG YES I love groups like this?? I don't really know what it is but big groups of dysfunctional friends becoming a sort of found family is such a soft spot for me. I especially love it when they kinda start to rely on the group and it, made of imperfect people, can't hold up to it. I just really loved how well and how quickly this diverse group of characters was developed into compelling people I kinda wanted to be out adventuring with (even with all the drama). I think the resolution was what sold it for me. Also kinda loved Lou (what a big softie????) and Tommy (lovable hot mess nerd). Kinda want like an entire book of them?

Missing Persons by Elie Marney - ✩✩✩
Oof I'm not sure about this one. The thing was I liked it, and I liked the characters? Or at least, I liked what I was starting to see, but I felt like I was missing a lot. I've found out now that this is actually a prequel to the Every series by the author, which sounds awesome and I should check out. The problem is that without the backing of the series and knowing these characters, I feel like it wasn't as impactful as it could have been? Buuuuut that being said, the missing person sentiment was a really lovely one, and I felt the heart ache of leaving a place behind, and trying to start anew.

Oona Underground by Lili Wilkinson - ✩✩✩
Loved the fantasy vibes in this one! It was another one of those starts out very real feeling, grounded in a graffiti covered drain and then kinda dipping into a fae like world. You know, like they'd stepped into the mushroom ring at some point. I also liked the relationship between the two girls (another F/F relationship, good job #OzYA!), though I have to say I wasn't a super big fan of Was kinda confused by the ending, but also pretty satisfied by it?

The Feeling from Over Here by Gabrielle Tozer - ✩✩✩✩
Oooh I love the whole trope of two people who used to be close but then something went terribly wrong and they've been avoiding each other until now, when they're stuck together for some reason. I'm sure there's a better name for this trope, but I'm all about it. I love the tension, and the unravelling of past wrongs and misunderstandings. I really liked Lucy, and her balancing act between strength and fear, and grudges and forgiveness. Also Cam was a sweetheart (aside from his dickhead moment, but everyone has at least four in their lives so...)

Last Night at the Mount Solemn Observatory by Danielle Binks - ✩✩✩✩✩
The feels!! This had that found family sort of vibe that I love, mixed with actual family (really really good family, actually), and nostalgia. Also a Deaf character surrounded by people who signed and spoke (or tried their best)! I mean there was a whole small town of dickheads who didn't, but I always appreciate characters that give a shit? I guess as the eldest in my family I really empathised with King - torn between his plans for his future and the ache of leaving family behind. I loved that it wasn't running away that motivated him, but running to? Also Bowie was a pretty lovely character, and I really felt her desire to keep up and the fear of everything changing and everyone leaving. I dunno, this story was just really sweet and soft.

Competition Entry #349 by Jaclyn Moriarty - ✩✩✩✩✩
This was too good! For one, I very much enjoy stories in unconventional formats/with unconventional prompts, so a competition entry is off to a pretty good start. And then time travel! I'm absolutely sold. I guess what I liked most about this was its entirely new take on time travel? Done in a series of ten minute intervals, with five sessions to the same time, and breaks in between, and with no ability to change the past. It's the perfect solution to paradox avoidance?? Like why has no one tried writing it like this before? The ability to kinda walk back through memories, almost, but not your own? And the ability to change perspective and interact directly? Also, gotta say I'm a fan of the way she used her time travel opportunity. What a solid family? What a good romance plot? 11/10 would make her the winner of this competition.

(So I've just found out that the authors also have these individual stories on their own goodreads, so I'm gonna casually copy the reviews for each there, so I can find the authors I need to check out....)
Profile Image for Nadia King.
Author 12 books77 followers
June 24, 2017
Begin, End, Begin: A #LoveOzYA Anthology celebrates the #LoveOzYA movement which began when like-minded people came together to garner attention for YA fiction in Australia. In a nutshell, the movement is about helping Australian teens discover oft-neglected Australian YA fiction.

Begin, End, Begin is a highly entertaining collection of short stories from some of Australia's best-known YA authors with stories based on the theme 'begin, end, begin'. The anthology gives readers a vast selection of stories chock full of feels. It's got a bit of everything for everyone--magical realism, speculative fiction, coming-of-age stories, stories of friendship and space are all included.

My personal highlights (in no particular order) included:

'I Can See the Ending' by Will Kostakis
'In a Heartbeat' by Alice Pung
'Missing Persons' by Ellie Marney
'The Feeling From Over Here' by Gabrielle Tozer
'Competition Entry' by Jaclyn Moriarty

In future anthologies, it would be fantastic to see more new YA voices included.

Highly recommended for readers of YA fiction or those wanting to dip their toes into something a bit different.
Profile Image for Forever Young Adult.
3,015 reviews426 followers
May 24, 2018
Graded By: Mandy C.
Cover Story: Pretty Busy
The Most Familiar: “Missing Persons” by Ellie Marney and “One Small Step …” by Amie Kaufman
The Most Noteworthy: “Oona Underground” by Lili Wilkinson
The Most “Australian”: “Last Night at the Mount Solemn Observatory” by Danielle Binks, “Sundays” by Melissa Keil
Bonus Factors: #LoveOzYA, Diversity
Break Glass In Case Of: Looking to Expand Your Horizons

Read the full book report here.
Profile Image for Brooklyn Tayla.
967 reviews64 followers
April 26, 2018
This has left me with such glorious emotions, and I'm grinning so hard right now! every one of these stories were so wonderful, my heart felt so elated! I found myself getting attatched to each character and loving what was happening in each story! I loved the diversity to these stories too, and I wish they were all full length novels, truthfully! but no, I know they've made their mark as some of the best short stories I've read, and this is definitely a celebration of Love Oz YA! These are the stories I wish I had when I was a teenager, so I'm definitely even more grateful for them now, and I cannot wait to read the authors' other books!
Profile Image for Clair Sharpe.
521 reviews41 followers
December 31, 2017
Thank you Harper Collins YA for sending me a copy of this book. This is a collection of short stories by Australian young adult writers. All were good stories. My favourites were probably One Small Step by Amie Kaufman which is set on Mars, I Can See the Ending by Will Kostakis, a love story where the boy is psychic and In a Heartbeat by Alice Pung about a teen pregnancy. Some good quality writing and some imaginative stories.
Profile Image for Katie.
2,667 reviews144 followers
July 8, 2017
Really solid collection! I wasn't a huge fan of the Jacklyn Moriarty and I thought the Michael Pryor was heavy handed, but nothing was BAD. And nicely diverse in terms of race, sexuality, and genre.

Plus, the story I wanted to read it for--Ellie Marney's story of how Watts and Mycroft meet--was fabulous.

Profile Image for Emma Gerts.
291 reviews24 followers
June 1, 2017
I really enjoyed this anthology. I find it's very unusual to have an anthology where every story is as strong as the last, but that's what #LoveOzYA has given us. This is a great collection of Australian authors and stories that have a distinctly Australian feel, even when they're set in space. A great read and a great contribution to YA literature in Australia.
Profile Image for Kirra.
514 reviews18 followers
May 18, 2017
I was dying to read this anthology since it was announced last year but unfortunately, when it came out I couldn't find it anywhere in my local area for weeks until I went a little further into a Dymocks and finally found that beautiful, limited edition foil covered beauty of a book! I'm really happy to support #LoveOzYA because Young Adult books have become so popular in the past few year which is fantastic but Australian Young Adult fiction is still not as popular even in our own country. That's why all these awesome authors have come together each with their own 30-40 page short stories to celebrate and draw attention to the fact that we have such brilliant and creative writers right here as well and hopefully, people will go on to read their novels too! I've only read books from four of these nine authors but I'm definitely interested in reading actual books from a few of these new ones I hadn't heard of before.

I've compiled my thoughts that I wrote immediately after finishing each story so there's a general idea of what each plot is about but no big spoilers. If you don't want to read the whole anthology or my review that's understandable because some of these short stories definitely weren't my kind of thing but please, please, please read First Casualty by Michael Pryor as well as my favourites One Small Step, I Can See The Ending and Oona Underground! They are all such fabulous stories but First Casualty and Oona Underground were so intense that you honestly just have to read them for yourselves.

One Small Step... by Amie Kaufman - ★★★★★

One Small Step is the cutest and most talented little short story ever taking place on Mars. It's also totally logical and has a great core message for younger readers but you can expect all that from such a fabulous author so that's no surprise.

Zaida is the first person to ever be born on Mars due to a little happy accident when her parents moved from Earth to start the colony on Mars and met. She's been monitored her whole life by the whole world who are clearly fascinated by the first Martian so she has to juggle growing up as a teenager (which is already difficult), keeping her billions of fans updated, a secret crush on her best friend and where she'll go to college! I love that she has such a relatable issue to so many teenagers and young people while also being so far away from us readers by being the first person born on Mars!

This short story jumped from before and after showing a disastrous event in between and then wrapped up perfectly by the end. It was excellent pacing from the author and I really enjoyed her writing as much as anything else she has written before. Honestly, this would make a fantastic standalone novel and I would be so thrilled if Amie ever expanded on it but it was perfection as just twenty-four pages so I'm happy to leave it there. Although I'll still imagine all the adorable little dates they could have and the crazy adjustment Zaida would have going to Earth for the first time for college! This beautiful short story will stay with me for long after the few minutes it took to read it.

I Can See The Ending by Will Kostakis - ★★★★ 1/2

Wow, this short story had the brilliant sarcasm and witty lines I'd expect from Will but it also had a teenage boy who sees the future! Adam has a crush on Nina and decides on his last day of work that he needs to get their relationship moving but after their first kiss... he can see their ending. This story explores the grief seeing your future and others can bring you when it takes away the ability to live in the moment but also shows how it can be a good thing as well. I really enjoyed the dynamic between Adam and his mother and I absolutely loved the banter between Adam and Nina. This plot was so thrilling and I wanted more because it was such an interesting twist!

In a Heartbeat by Alice Pung - ★★★★ 1/2

Wow, this story was awesome and it was such a good topic. I'm definitely seeing a trend in these short stories because I've loved all of them and was somehow left wanting more but also being totally fulfilled by each ending. I've read half of one of Alice Pung's books and I haven't finished it yet (not because I didn't like it but just because I had a lot to read at the time) but I still loved her writing and I think I should try harder to finish Laurinda after loving this so much.

In A Heartbeat was a short story about a teenage girl who accidentally becomes pregnant with her last year of High School approaching. Typically, her boyfriend rejects the idea of having a child because of his future and strict parents and clearly her mother isn't pleased but she decides she can't go back to one heartbeat after hearing both of them inside her together. I love that it doesn't make teen pregnancy sound like so much fun and a cool thing but it doesn't come across as the end of the world. It's a perfect mix between oh crap this is awful and this is something that can turn out alright. It was a very interesting read and I loved the way Alice wrote from a teenager's perspective and with plenty of Asian representation as well (with a few Asian clichés we all use).

First Casualty by Michael Pryor - ★★★★★

A mention of schoolies on the first page of this story really set the tone for me - so Australian! Our main character is posting an ad for someone to travel through space for his post-graduation celebrations which must be the futuristic version of going down to the Gold Coast for a week for partying, fun and plenty of regrets after High School is finally over. So Tekura applied to travel with Damien and they're taking the Port Vila out for three hardworking but hopefully up for planet hopping and exploring. The story mostly covers the repairing of the ship before they can leave and they get closer in the time and generally enjoy spending time with each other for someone they need to work with for mutual payout later when they get to go on their trip.

When they finally get up off their home planet Tekura and Damien have plenty of time on their hands between long travels to planets until they see a distress signal of a ship with another species and war refugees. The Palmeenee are an intelligent species and a very calm, incurious kind to questions and wondering but they still managed to get caught up in another planet's war and because of their peaceful demeanour they lose their people and don't stand against it.

After Tekura and Damien take them into the Port Vila they set course for Mars to settle and help the injured Palmeenee refugees. That's when things get complicated when the news follows them around and makes them the most interesting trend in the solar system and the government refuse to come to their aid. It's funny because Michael Pryor has set this story in space with aliens and spaceships but at its core, it's about the greed and deception of the government and the way people turn on refugees.

Read this quote but replace Palmeenee with Muslim or Asian and see just how current this story is... "Smearing someone is an ancient and effective tactic. Politicians are really, really clever, in some ways, at least. Find a hair, and they'll split it. They'll start to raise doubts. Are these Palmeenee really refugees? Are there Palmeenee aboard who could be criminals? Could these Palmeenee be carrying diseases that could spread? Could it be that some of these Palmeenee are just taking the opportunity to look for a nicer place to live, a place where they could make money?"

The Palmeenee are such kind and lovely creatures/aliens that get on so well with the two humans even if they can't all speak English and Tekura and Damien can't speak their language but once they try to bring them to Mars the government is quick to try to make them villains and drag Damien and Tekura down with them. Out of all the stories in this book, even if the other space type stories are so cute, this story is the MOST important of them all because for me it is not only an awesome story set in space but an awesome commentary on real life issues that we do need to acknowledge and this was fantastic because that quote is so f%#king relevant!

Sundays by Melissa Keil - ★★★ 1/2

Melissa Keil's story follows a group of friends from 9 pm on a Saturday night to 4 am on a Sunday morning. When two of their friends, that have been the perfect couple and they thought would be forever thing, break up. Breakups happen though, especially when you're young, but they find out by seeing one of their friends in the relationship kissing a new girl before they told them the news.

Thankfully, their other friend seems totally fine with the split and insists it's mutual but for our main character she is suddenly swept into their new future of a group that is divided, a group that won't be rooming together when they go to university and separate dinners. Over the course of the night, they adjust to it like the recently broken up couple already have but I actually didn't enjoy this one as much as the other stories so far. Maybe it's because the others had really big events and this one was relatively small on the scale.

Missing Persons by Ellie Marney - ★★★

This one was the same sort of tone for me where I enjoyed the writing but I didn't connect to the story or characters. Rachel and her family have recently moved from a more rural, acreage area to the bustling city of Melbourne. On her first day at her new school, she's shown around the area and meets Mai's friend, Mycroft. He's prone to saying incredibly insulting things without stopping to realise he even offended someone and seems crazy and odd to Rachel but I liked his otherworldly weirdness.

The story basically explores a new budding friendship based on the idea that Rachel and Mycroft both feel so alien and out of sorts in their current positions but now they have a friend to lean on and help them through it. That's what I took from the story but I just admit my mind drifted a lot through this one so I might not have been taking it all in!

Oona Underground by Lili Wilkinson - ★★★★★

Meg and Oona have been friends since they were children and Meg has always been in her shadow but she doesn't mind because she adores her as the friend and a brilliant person but she also has a crush on her as well. Oona seems to be looking for love and Meg wants to shout to look at her but instead, she ends up being dragged along to look for some witch that will tell you your destiny in dark, mysterious tunnels because of an almost urban legend around their High School.

I actually felt breathless after finishing this short story because it was so overwhelming. I was totally freaked out and scared for them while reading it and I even imagined myself in their situation and was really creeped out in person too. That was truly excellent and I love when authors can reach out and make something really affect you. I loved the storyline as well and the two main characters had such satisfying endings. That was scary, odd, magical and beautiful and you guys need to read it to understand!

The Feeling From Over Here by Gabrielle Tozer - ★★★

Lucy is taking a bus trip all the way to Melbourne so it will be an eight-hour trip so the bus driver fondly calls her Eight. She assumes (as I would too) that the bus will be filled with weirdos and creeps but it looks pretty normal at first and she gets two seats to herself! She's pretty content to relax and curl up until they get a late passenger and him just so happens to be someone she knew quite well but she assumes he didn't notice her at all and he just so happens to be sitting next to her! He's super cute in her opinion but they butted heads so it wasn't all cute and fluffy.

I think it was a nice, easy-going read for me because it was mostly just conversational dialogue with a little bickering and I liked that they were stuck on the bus together for hours so they were unavoidable but after all the fantastic shorts I read at the start of the book these shorts can't really compare due to my style and interests.

Last Night At The Mount Solemn Observatory by Danielle Brinks - ★★★ 1/2

This was a really sweet story that warmed my heart. It was mostly about a brother and sister and their relationship over the years before settling on the last sort of night they share together before he leaves for school. Although, it's also about a deaf teenager and the people around him. Her brother is deaf so she was born growing up around him and learned sign language from a very young age from their parents. I really enjoyed reading from the perspective of people using sign language and I think their friend were good because they tried to learn as they went as well but obviously his bond and communication with his sister were better. So yes, I think their friendship was super sweet and I enjoyed that sort of slow, happy writing.

Competition Entry #349 by Jaclyn Moriarty - ★★★★★

Wow, that was so cute and I still have a smile on my face after finishing it but it wasn't just cute, it was also super interesting because it's about a time travel agency in Sydney that's offering a competition for five (5) ten-minute time travel journeys, flights to Sydney and fancy accommodation. The competition specifies you should enter in 25 words or less but the main character spends about forty pages explaining why she should win it and telling the readers about her previous journeys to the past in that travel agency. Yes, she's already tried the ten-minute travels to the past on a school trip and she only lives four minutes from the agency so the flights and accommodation are unnecessary but she'll still gladly take them and use those another time.

I loved the brazen confidence of the main character because she just told them how it was going to go but she also detailed those trips she already took (two weeks into the past instead of hundreds of years ago like her classmates) and it was really cool because although she couldn't change the past while she was in that time she had a way of using it to her advantage in the end and she found out what she wanted to know. I didn't expect the last short story to be so great but it really went out with an awesome bang with a plot that was just as great as some of the short stories from the earlier shorts I loved.
Profile Image for Jessica M.
634 reviews8 followers
May 20, 2017

I love this anthology! All of the stories (and the chosen writers) gel really well together and it’s really nice to see a focus on Australian young adult fiction. This anthology features some really well-loved Aussie writers, well-known for their novels and their trilogies. I would’ve liked for it to feature perhaps one more debut writer (in addition to Danielle Binks) because this anthology would’ve really helped them kickstart their writing career and would be a great way to introduce YA readers to another fresh, unpublished voice.

I’ve broken down my review and posted about each individual story in the order in which they appear in the book.

ONE SMALL STEP by Amie Kaufman
This is a sweet story set on Mars, about a young girl whose parents are encouraging her to continue her school education on Earth at any one of the prestigious universities who have recently offered her a place. She’s not sure what she wants to do, so she hasn’t made a decision yet. Also, she happens to be in love with her best friend and doesn’t know if she should tell her. She doesn’t know if her friend feels the same way.

“Keiko’s the only one who doesn’t care who or what I am, apart from just being me. She’s been around way too long to be impressed. You’d think things would be simple around Keiko, right? They’re not.”

This short story is really well-paced and quite enjoyable. The characters are really relatable and the romance between the two girls is really sweet. I must admit, it did feel a little self-contained for a short story. I got to the end of the story and felt like a lot of things were wrapped up, and I didn’t have any burning questions (which is something I thought short stories usually encourage?).

I also thought that the story should’ve been a bit longer. So much happens in the story (plot-wise and character-wise) that I felt like a higher word count was needed to really give the story more room. It’s really well-written though, and I enjoyed reading it. I think fans of Amie Kaufman will love it for its setting and also for the high-action plot.

I CAN SEE THE ENDING by Will Kostakis
This story has such an adorable concept! It’s about a boy called Adam who gets glimpses of the future and can sense how things will play out. Once day, when hanging out with his colleague Nina, he foresees that the two of them will get married but will then later get divorced. Adam thinks that he should perhaps change fate. Perhaps he should not get into a relationship with her at all if it’s just going to end in heartbreak? Adam really struggles to understand how he’s supposed to use this gift he has.

“Time bends. I feel the hot rage before I see her. We’re standing on some street. She’s shouting, spitting, all rage, too. She’s older, we both are. I can tell without a mirror. I know the difference in my joints, my body seems less cooperative as I amble towards her. She raises a hand and throws smoothing at my chest. I catch it, almost fumble. She leaves. I hold a ring.”

This short story is the perfect length. It’s enjoyable, and it’s the perfect balance of character-driven and plot-driven. There’s fantastic character development and the premise is really unique and engaging. The story still leaves plenty of things open so that you are left wondering — you want to keep reading about these characters. I Can See the Ending also provides enough information to keep you entertained. I loved this!

IN A HEARTBEAT by Alice Pung
This was probably one of my favourite stories in the anthology. It’s written in second person and is written like a letter from a pregnant teenage girl named Kim to her unborn child. It’s a very empowering story because in a way, Kim’s story parallels with her mother’s story — Kim’s father has left them and since then, her mother has raised Kim on her own. In A Heartbeat illustrates that you don’t need a man in your life to succeed, and that there are women out there who are strong, resilient and inspiring, and they’re single mothers too. Kim learns that the baby’s father Luis (and his parents) don’t want to be in the child’s life because it might harm his career. And then Kim comes to the realisation that she really doesn’t need him anyway.

“We’d been through this already. All the bloody adults counselling me, asking me if this is what I really wanted, did I understand the responsibilities of having a child, yadda yadda yadda. Of course I did, which was why I was so depressed and miserable.”

In A Heartbeat also illustrates how courageous and brave Kim is, and how much her mother loves her and supports her (despite how disappointed she is in Kim for the unplanned pregnancy). Kim is constantly being told what she can and can’t do and yet she’s strong enough to know that she can make her own decisions, despite the fact that the odds are stacked together. We also realise that if someone lets you down or isn’t there for you, then maybe it’s better that you let them leave rather than forcing them to stay.

I felt like there was only one flaw in the story, and that was the interwoven switch between past and present. Kim often tells stories about the past and the transition between past and present was a bit clunky. I often found myself a little confused because the constant switch between tense, along with the piece being written in second person, made the story a little jarring at times. But overall, I really really loved this piece and thought it was brilliant.

FIRST CASUALTY by Michael Pryor
This is a suspenseful short story about a holiday trip (in space) that goes horribly wrong. It’s an interesting concept and I didn’t mind it. It may not have been my favourite story of the anthology, but I found it quite enjoyable to read.

“There’s nothing like being tagged ‘adequate’ to get your day off to a good start.”

The writing is great - engaging, entertaining and at times witty. The characters are fun to read and the story is quite plot-driven. There’s a lot happening in the story and it keeps the reader interested. In the middle of the story, I did feel like the pace dropped off a little bit (and it felt a little dry at times), but it picked up again towards the end.

SUNDAYS by Melissa Keil
Melissa’s story is about a group of teenagers at a party that stretches over one long night. The main character, Gabrielle, seems to be clinging to her best friends because her home life isn’t that great at the moment. Her two friends Cameron and Claire have been dating for years — since primary school. But at the party, Claire tells them that they’ve broken up, and then Cam is seen kissing someone else. But Claire is happy, and she’s ready to move on. Although, it appears Gabrielle and their other friends aren’t quite ready yet.

“No, no, no. This wasn’t part of our plan. For four years it’s been Claire and Cameron, ever since they hooked up at Tommy’s fourteenth birthday party. Yeah, so maybe we are a wee bit invested. But, man, with the rest of our shitty, messy lives? Claire and Cam are the closest thing any of us have to a gravitational centre.”

This has quite the unique premise because it’s not the usual characters or storyline — it’s an interesting take on teenage relations. It speaks about relationships that perhaps still exist not because it’s right, but because it’s always been that way. Sundays will resonate with teenagers because it allows them to let go of the past and let go of what they’re desperately clutching to and embracing. It’s important to note that not everything is set in stone. This was written really well, with hilarious characters and plenty of wit and humour.

This is about a young girl — Rachel — who moves from the country to Melbourne with her family. Missing Persons spans a number of weeks, allowing us to read about Rachel experiencing the first few weeks of school and making friends. It’s like a coming of age story and a story about a teenager trying to fit in to her new and unknown surroundings.

“The upsides of going home are that first, I get to go home. Second, I get to ride the tram. The city looks different out the tram window; more contained, almost manageable.”

I thought this was a sweet short story, touching on something that I think a lot of teenagers experience: adapting to new surroundings and learning to make new friends. I felt like there should’ve been more development with her relationship with her parents and her brother. Besides that, I think Ellie did a fantastic job with the pacing of the story and the friendship between Rachel and Mycroft.

OONA UNDERGROUND by Lili Wilkinson
Amazing. One of my favourite stories of the anthology. It’s about two young friends who venture underground to find a witch who can answer any burning questions they may have about their lives. It’s a little magical and a little real and together, Lili has moulded an amazing short story that is lyrical, poetic but also wildly entertaining and unique.

“Do you ever wonder if you’re already dead?” he asks. “And you just haven’t realised?”

Out of all the stories in this anthology, Oona Underground is the story that says the most, but also leaves the most out of it at the same time. It keeps the reader guessing — it keeps them engaged and interested and enraptured. This story is an exploration of love and hope and destiny, but it is also a little paranormal and magical. Loved it!

This short story is about Lucy and Cameron, two young teenagers (with a complicated history) who both happen to be on the same bus ride from Canberra to Melbourne one night. They haven’t seen each other in years, not since Lucy and Cameron were at the same high school and they kissed each other at a party. And then Cameron became popular, and Lucy was bullied by Cameron’s friends.

“If they’re the bricks, then she’s the cement.”

The story takes place over one long bus ride between the two cities, where plenty of drama happens and many things force the two of them to acknowledge the other. We experience both Lucy and Cameron’s perspective and we come to understand how they feel about each other and about how things unfolded the last time they were together. That Feeling From Over Here touches on the hurdles of high school and how bullying can resonate with someone years later and how someone who doesn’t mean to can actually play a large part in the bullying.

I think there is one small flaw in the story, and that is the text messages that Lucy is sending her friends. Lucy messages her friends quite a few times in the story, but they don’t reply. The messages were a good way for the author to know how Lucy was feeling (at first, she sends her friends an SOS text when she realises that Cameron is on the same bus as her), but I think Gabrielle could’ve easily woven Lucy’s feelings into the prose of the story. I felt like the texts really weren’t necessary and probably could’ve been cut from the entire thing.

This was one of my unexpected highlights of the book — a touching story about siblings and their strong bond. Bowie is a fourteen-year-old girl who idolises her older brother King, and she’s quite sad that he’s about to leave their home town Orianna and travel the world. She follows him one night when he goes out to hang out with his friends. It’s actually his last night in the town, and she wants to be a part of it. He lets her come along with him and his friends as they go to to the Mount Solemn Observatory.

“I stay crouched by my window, where I’ve been since hearing King leave — the familiar sound of his feet hitting the floor, a creak on the staircase and the little bang of the back door…Off on some adventure on his last night in Orianna. And before I’ve even fully decided, I’m already pulling on jeans and a T-shirt, reaching for a pair of thongs.”

Last Night at the Mount Solemn Observatory is a fantastic short story and a really great snippet of a much longer piece. I felt like I wanted to know more about King — I would love to read a longer piece about his travels overseas and his adventures abroad. I think it would make a great YA novel.

Danielle’s short story captures that sibling relationship perfectly. On the one hand, your younger sibling can be quite the embarrassment when you’re around your friends. But on the other hand, you’re glad to have the company and there’s a closeness there that you relish in. The pacing was on point and the characters were so full of life and three dimensional. I loved reading about all of them!

COMPETITION ENTRY #349 by Jaclyn Moriarty
What a quirky, hilarious, scrumptious short story! I’d read a lot of people’s reactions to this anthology before I picked it up, and a lot of people were stating that Jaclyn’s story was one of their favourites. And I’m so glad it is the story that ends the book, because it’s probably the most fun. What a way to conclude the anthology!

“A voice spoke up. A soft, low voice. The sort of voice that makes feathers slide up and down your spine, and fireflies zing around your stomach.”

In this story, a young girl enters a competition to win a time-travel package at the Time Travel Agency. Her answer, which is supposed to be twenty-five words or less, is actually about forty pages. As it turns out, she’s already been to the Time Travel Agency for school, and she feels like she needs to redo her experience.

Earlier that morning, she’d been there and instead of going back in time to the early 1900s like most of the kids in her class, she went back a few weeks to the time that she’d kissed Noah in her bedroom and then he’d left her house and never called her again. She wanted to know what she did wrong and why he had been pretending to ignore her since their kiss. It’s sweet, but this is also a truly hilarious story.

Jaclyn Moriarty is a wonderful writer, with poetic prose and lyrical writing and she somehow manages to mould together the most beautiful of sentences to make the perfect story. Reading her writing is always such a joy.
Profile Image for Ghostly  Writer.
173 reviews4 followers
April 24, 2018
OK. So, I know that I didn't read many of these stories in full, as I became disinterested pretty quickly. I gave some of them a chance, by reading the first couple of pages.

Disappointedly, the only story that made me think and feel WOW was 'In a Heartbeat', by Alice Pung. Her writing style is extraordinary! Unfortunately, with the other writers', the genres of these stories weren't suited to my personal taste. For example, space travel, science-fiction, etc.

I would mainly recommend this to readers who like genres such as science-fiction, as I thought a lot of these seemed to be based around that genre (except for Alice Pung's story).

Profile Image for Emma.
81 reviews10 followers
April 27, 2017
Each and every story in this anthology was a complete delight. I dragged the reading out over a full day and paused to appreciate the diversity, humor and heart. Danielle Binks's story was my stand out favourite. Which takes nothing away from my love for them ALL!
Profile Image for Margot McGovern.
Author 6 books70 followers
May 22, 2017
Before I launch into the fanfest that’s about to ensue, I feel I need to be upfront: My intent in writing this post is 100% to make you go out and buy Begin, End, Begin: A #LoveOzYA Anthology (Harper Collins, May 2017). It’s FABULOUS. And while I haven’t been paid, bribed, cajoled, blackmailed, coerced, or, you know, asked to write about Begin, End, Begin (I didn’t even request a review copy because I so wanted to have the experience of buying this book from my local bookshop), I am ever so slightly biased. Begin, End, Begin is edited and features a story by Danielle Binks, who I have the great fortune of calling my agent. And in addition to loving this book completely in its own right, I’m also utterly thrilled for Danielle to see it out in the wild and causing such a buzz. So, to reiterate: Fanfest. Not review. Even still, go read it.

If you’re Australian and a fan of YA, you’ve likely heard about the #LoveOzYA movement by now. It started when the Australian Library and Information Association released its list of most-borrowed YA books for the first quarter of 2015. Of the ten titles on the list, only two were Australian, Every Breath by Ellie Marney and The Book Thief by Markus Zuzak. The rest were international bestsellers by American authors with film franchises and huge marketing campaigns behind them. While there’s nothing wrong with these overseas titles, or with Australian teenagers reading them, Aussie teens deserve stories that speak to their experiences too. Those stories exist, in fact, we’re lucky to have some truly incredible authors writing YA in this country, but readers don’t always know they’re out there—our publishing industry just isn’t large enough to support the kind of large-scale publicity pushes needed to compete with blockbusters from overseas. So #LoveOzYA is basically a way for Australian teachers, librarians, booksellers, writers and readers to share their love of Aussie YA. As Danielle explains in the forward to Begin, End, Begin:

'LoveOzYA … Was not born out of patriotism or a rejection of international voices—far from it. LoveOzYA has been about the inclusion of voices.'

For more about #LoveOzYA—how it came about, why it’s necessary and what work is being done—have a read of Danielle’s essay ‘#LoveOzYA’, published in Kill Your Darlings back when the movement was getting underway in July 2015, and also see the #LoveOzYA website and have some fun exploring the hashtag on Twitter and Instagram.

As the title suggests, Begin, End, Begin: A #LoveOzYA Anthology was born out of the #LoveOzYA movement. It’s a collection of ten short stories from some of the leading voices in Aussie YA. In ‘In a Heartbeat’ by Alice Pung, Kim, who is Catholic Asian-Australian, and her single mum try to figure out what to do when Kim falls pregnant and the dad decides not to stick around. While in ‘Oona Underground’ by Lili Wilkinson, Meg follows her best friend, Oona, on a dangerous and fantastical labyrinthine journey, all the while wishing she could just tell Oona how she really feels about her. In Ellie Marney’s ‘Missing Persons’ a girl from the outback strikes up an unlikely friendship with an English boy as she tries to navigate Melbourne life. And in Michael Pryor’s ‘First Casualty’ an intergalactic schoolies trip takes an unexpected turn when two teenagers help an alien refugee ship in distress and inadvertently find themselves at the centre of a media-fuelled political shitstorm. There’s time travel and psychics, star gazing, all-night parties, first loves (on Mars) and broken hearts. I laughed a lot and cried at least three times.

All ten stories hinge on this idea of endings and beginnings, which is a fitting theme for stories about young characters who are moving through one of life’s major turning points. There are realisations made, perceptions altered, hearts exposed and apologies offered. And even the more light-hearted stories are underpinned by a certain poignancy, a sense that risks must be taken and sacrifices made before something new can be gained. It gives the collection a quiet vulnerability that I absolutely loved.

I thoroughly enjoyed all ten stories, but for me, the standouts were those that really embrace this vulnerability:

In Will Kostakis’s ‘I Can See the Ending’ a psychic boy struggles to negotiate the beginning of a new relationship that he knows will endure for many years but ultimately end badly. The dialogue is clever and witty, the characters endearing and the story raises big questions about what makes an experience worthwhile and whether happy endings are overrated. (Also, just quietly, how incredible is that title?)

Gabrielle Tozer’s ‘The Feeling From Over Here’ throws an ex-couple together on an overnight bus ride from Canberra to Melbourne. It’s wonderfully intimate and atmospheric, and I loved how the narrative switches between Lucy and Cam’s point-of-view as they slowly work up the courage to revisit the past and discuss what went wrong between them.

Finally (and I swear I’m not just playing favourites here), ‘Last Night at the Mount Solemn Observatory’ by Danielle Binks grabbed me by the heart and still hasn’t let go. It’s the story of Bowie, a girl whose big brother, King, is about to leave on a gap year. He and his tight-knit group of friends are all headed in different directions and Bowie tags along with them as they celebrate one last night together at an abandoned observatory on the outskirts of their small town. The word that keeps coming to mind when I think about this story is haunting, and it left me with a big ol’ lump in my throat. Also, the prose is sen-freaking-sational—lyrical and filled with vivid imagery and subtle-yet-beautifully-worked symbolism that makes you want to linger over over the sentences and lose yourself between the lines.

I know a lot of readers who’ve read one or two of the big international bestsellers and turned up their noses at the entire YA category (side note: fab article ‘Boks for Girls’ by Samantha Forge about this up on Kill Your Darlings), and I just want to find every single one of these naysayers and press a copy of Begin, End, Begin into their hands to show them what they’re missing out on. It’s stories like these that are the reason I’m still reading and fangirling over YA in my thirties and will still being doing so in my eighties, if I make it that far. But more importantly, I’m really excited that this anthology exists for Aussie teens and will hopefully help them discover and revisit local authors who speak to their experiences.

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Profile Image for Tamsien West (Babbling Books).
608 reviews323 followers
November 12, 2017
Wonderfully diverse, Begin End Begin showcases so many different ways to tell an Australian story. If you are a #LoveOzYA fan you'll spot stories from authors you love. If you've never read a modern Australian YA book, this is the perfect place to dive in.

Danielle Binks has done an excellent job of curating a selection of very different stories that are all united in their strength as narratives for young adult readers. There is contemporary, a little bit of YA romance (a love story or two), plus urban fantasy and sci-fi. There are stories that include characters with disabilities, LGBTQIA+ characters, characters of many races, which are all stories which show the layers of Australia and the diversity of people within this country.

As with all short story collections there were stories that stood out and stories which I felt missed the mark. This will most likely be different for every reader, that's the nature of collections. For me some of the memorable stories were:

One Small Step, by Amie Kaufman. The perfect choice as an opening story, One Small Step focuses on the first child born on Mars. Zaida has grown up with the whole world watching her, a space-age celebrity, as the world clamors to know all about the first child on Mars. She is grappling with the very relatable challenge of deciding what and where to study after graduating high school, and with her growing crush on her best friend. Girls in love in space, and excellent opener.

In a Heartbeat, by Alice Pung. A really touching and raw letter from a teen mum to her unborn child that also touches on 1st and 2nd generation migrant family dynamics. It was one of the shorter stories in the collection, but it has really stuck with me.

Missing Persons, by Ellie Marney. A story that explores the dislocating feeling of moving from the country to the city. There is so much love for the Australian landscape in this little tale, the sights, scents and feelings are captured so perfectly I felt like I was breathing in Rachel's memories. I focuses on starting a new high school, making friends, and all the awkwardness that comes with that.

Overall, it's a really terrific YA collection and lovers of YA will find so much to enjoy in this book.
Profile Image for Amy.
270 reviews69 followers
May 25, 2018
My ratings for all the individual stories averaged out to 3.4, so I rounded down to 3 stars even though there were some stories in here that I really liked. My three favorites were The Feeling From Over Here by Gabrielle Tozer, Missing Persons be Ellie Marney, and Sundays by Melissa Keil. Most of the ones that didn't work for me were the sci-fi and fantasy stories, which I just have a hard time getting into with so few pages to explain the context of the world. I also just tend not to like stories set in space because they always remind me of that one episode of Spongebob where Spnongebob and Patrick take Sandy's rocket to the moon but they're not actually on the moon and they capture all of their friends because they think that they're aliens. Anyway, that's obviously a me problem and doesn't say anything about the quality of these stories. Overall, I really enjoyed this collection, and I have some new authors I'm excited to check out.

One Small Step… - 🌟🌟🌟
I Can See the Ending - 🌟🌟🌟🌟
In a Heartbeat - 🌟
First Casualty - 🌟🌟🌟
Sundays - 🌟🌟🌟🌟1/2
Missing Persons - 🌟🌟🌟🌟1/2
Oona Underground - 🌟🌟
The Feeling From Over Here - 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
Last Night at the Mount Solemn Observatory - 🌟🌟🌟
Competition Entry #349 - 🌟🌟🌟🌟

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