kav (xreadingsolacex)'s Reviews > All Out: The No-Longer-Secret Stories of Queer Teens throughout the Ages

All Out by Saundra Mitchell
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how I rate anthologies: in-depth thoughts about each story first, then my thoughts on the anthology as a whole

Roja by Anna-Marie McLemore: 5 stars
What a brilliant way to start this anthology. The only story set in a non-Western country, Roja is the story of a romance between a Latina girl and a trans boy. Anna-Marie McLemore is one of my favorite authors of all-time, and this story just emphasized that. The romance in this story was EPIC, and I love how McLemore always incorporates cultural elements from their life because their stories are ones that you will never see anywhere else. Everything about this story is PERFECT!

The Sweet Trade by Natalie C. Parker: 3.5 stars
This sapphic romance was definitely adorable and I absolutely loved the emphasis on women power (discussion of girl pirates?? I am ALWAYS down!), but there was just a bit lacking in the story. I did enjoy the connection between the two girls and their strength was great, but I just didn't feel what I wanted with this unfortunately.

And They Don't Kiss at the End by Nilah Magruder: 5 stars
The only story featuring an ace main character, this one was about a black ace girl and I was absolutely LIVING for it. Whereas the term "asexual" was not used in this one, the theme of asexuality was very obvious and I loved seeing a different perspective than we saw in any other story in this anthology, both with the black rep and the ace rep. Definitely a favorite of mine, I adored every aspect of this story.

Burnt Umber by Mackenzi Lee: 4 stars
This was definitely another strong story of the anthology, a m/m romance that I definitely did adore. I loved the incorporation of art in this story and it is definitely obvious that Lee knows how to write queer romance and how to write historical fiction, plus she has a lot of raw talent when it comes to writing. However, I did find the ending somewhat predictable which was the one downside of this story for me.

The Dresser & the Chambermaid by Robin Talley: 5 stars
Another sapphic romance, I loved literally everything about this story. The palace setting was just such a perfect choice, I am an absolute sucker for any story involving royalty/a palace. Furthermore, I also adored the connection between the two girls and loved that neither of them were actually royalty, but were workers in the palace.

New Year by Malinda Lo: 3.5 stars
A story featuring a Chinese-American girl who I interpreted as questioning her sexuality/being queer in some way, I did really enjoy this story, but was also somewhat confused by it until I read the author's note at the end. That being said, I enjoyed the incorporation of friendship in this one and the inclusion of a non-white main character.

Molly's Lips by Dahlia Adler: 5 stars
Holy shit, this is easily my favorite story of the anthology without a single doubt in my mind. I mean, a sapphic romance between two best friends and the incorporation of Kurt Cobain's death/Nirvana??? This was everything I never knew I needed. Honestly, I can't even form comprehensive thoughts about this story other than PERFECTION PLEASE READ IT THANK YOU GOODBYE!

The Coven by Katie Scelsa: 2.5 stars
Honestly, I completely forgot what this story was about and had to go back and look at it, so I think that confirms that it was one of the stories I didn't quite enjoy in this anthology. Overall, I just didn't like the premise of this novel and the romance did not give any strong feelings, so it was probably my least favorite of the anthology unfortunately.

Every Shade of Red by Elliot Wake: 5 stars
A historical fiction Robin Hood re-telling featuring a m/m romance with a trans LI is just...perfection. Easily second place to Molly's Lips, I adored everything about this story as well. Listen, everyone who knows me KNOWS I am made for fairytale re-tellings, and giving me a queer fairytale re-telling is the happiness I deserve. I am so glad we got this story by a trans author and we got this beautiful rep in this story and also the m/m romance was so adorable and I go on and on, but just know you must read this piece of perfection.

Willows by Scott Tracey: 3 stars
I've seen that this seems to a popular least favorite of the anthology, but I actually enjoyed this story. At first, it was definitely somewhat confusing, but the m/m romance in it was so great and I loved the connection between those two characters with everything in me, and it definitely was more original than some of the others in this anthology. So, there was a mix of negatives and positives to this story, but I did enjoy it overall.

The Girl With the Blue Lantern by Tess Sharpe: 5 stars
This sapphic romance was so beautiful. Again, it was one of the more original stories of this novel and the connection between the two girls was undeniably perfect, plus Sharpe's talent with writing was the best way to perfect this story. I loved the fantasy elements of this story, the sapphic elements, and just everything about it.

The Secret Life of a Teenage Boy by Alex Sanchez: 4 stars
Again, it seems many people didn't enjoy this story very much, but I really enjoyed it. I admit, the jokes about kidnapping and the age difference were not the best way to go about this story, and whereas it did have those pitfalls, there were many other elements I enjoyed. I loved the m/m romance and the emphasis on a sibling relationship which is not something any other story of this anthology had, plus the queer coming-of-age aspect of this story was just brilliant. So again, there were some positives and negatives to this story.

Walking After Midnight by Kody Keplinger: 4 stars
I liked the originality of this story, it dealt with a theme that none of the others did and it definitely had a coming-of-age aspect to it which was done well. I also liked the connection between the girls involved in the sapphic romance of it, but it did take me a bit to get into it and there was a bit lacking in it. Overall, I did enjoy it.

The End of the World As We Know It by Sara Faizan: 4 stars
There were so many positives to this novel, I liked seeing a non-white main character and the inclusion of family, as well as the brief discussion of women power and the uniqueness of it. I also did like the connection between the two girls in the sapphic romance, but something that did bother me was how quick the MC was to forgive her. I wish there had been more of a conflict resolution before they jumped into a romance, but outside of that one complaint, I really enjoyed this story.

Three Witches by Tessa Gratton: 2.5 stars
This was definitely the other negative of the anthology for me. I do want to admit that I appreciated the conversation of conversion therapy which wasn't really in any of the stories (which is also okay, but I liked that the anthology dealt with that theme!). Unfortunately, there were also a lot of parts I felt confused during, and just personally *for me* (JUST ME), the emphasis on religion was not my favorite. That's definitely personal to MY ENJOYMENT of the story, and it did make it hard for ME to enjoy (JUST ME).

The Inferno & The Butterfly by Shaun David Hutchinson: 4.5 stars
Definitely one of the stronger stories of the novel, I loved this m/m romance and the connection between the two love interests. My one issue is that it took a bit for me to get into the story, but that being said, I think this was one of the three most unique premises of the anthology and, as mentioned earlier, the romance was great. Overall, definitely one of the stories I enjoyed more.

Healing Rosa by Tehloy Kay Mejia: 4 stars
A strong way to end the novel, I loved the sapphic romance, especially considering it was between two Latina girls. This, like the last one, took me a little bit to get into, but by the end I thoroughly enjoyed it as it was so original, combined with the cultural elements included in this story as well as the amazing connection between the two girls.

Overall, I enjoyed this anthology and whereas I don't have a lot of anthology-reading experience, I definitely think this is one of the strongest anthologies out there. That being said, there were a few elements I didn't much care for, so let's discuss those.

I really wish there had been more than one story set in a non-Western country. ALL of the stories expect Roja were set in either America or Europe, and I would have loved having much more diverse setting. Going off of that, we could've had way more people of color in this anthology. There were only five confirmed POC MCs in this anthology and that is really disheartening. Intersectionality is a must for rep.

Going off of that, this was also very basic in it's representation of queer identities. I love the idea of an all-queer anthology, but why is it so basic in it's rep of queer identities. Most of the stories featured f/f romances or m/m romances (which are both great!), and there were about two stories with trans characters (and only one trans author that I know of) and only one story featuring an ace main character. With seventeen stories, there was definitely room for far more diverse queer rep - other gender identities (identities outside the binary?), an aromantic main character, I honestly would loved a polyamorous relationship as well!

To be honest, I did consider dropping a star when considering these facts, but I thought about it a bit and realized that overall, this is an amazing anthology and I loved almost all of the stories. I don't want to nitpick too much, but I think it's okay to celebrate this great anthology while also discussing how we can improve anthologies like these in the future. There are some negatives to consider, but overall I think the positives outweigh the negatives and would definitely recommend this anthology to a friend.
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Reading Progress

February 4, 2018 – Shelved
February 4, 2018 – Shelved as: to-read
April 2, 2018 – Started Reading
April 8, 2018 – Finished Reading
July 19, 2020 – Shelved as: anthologies-short-story-coll
July 19, 2020 – Shelved as: bad-bitches
July 19, 2020 – Shelved as: stories-of-hope
July 19, 2020 – Shelved as: sapphic-fiction
July 19, 2020 – Shelved as: queer-fiction
July 19, 2020 – Shelved as: non-cis-rep
July 19, 2020 – Shelved as: latinx-fiction
July 19, 2020 – Shelved as: historical-fiction
July 19, 2020 – Shelved as: black-fiction
July 19, 2020 – Shelved as: asian-fiction

Comments Showing 1-2 of 2 (2 new)

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Shelly I totally agree with your review! You individual story breakdowns are so similar to mine and your overall thoughts at the end are definitely something I considered when making my rating too.

Elle (TheBookishActress) this is a quality review!! honestly there could've been so much more diverse queer rep? and I feel like you could do some of that without even taking away any of the other rep [dark anthology show me the trans and ace sapphics] and then it would've been soooo easy to have at least one aro protagonist. but also GLAD WE AGREE ON THE ANNA-MARIE MCLEMORE AND DAHLIA ADLER AND ELLIOT WAKE AND TESS SHARPE STORIES what icons of our time

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