With the start of December nearly upon us (yes really, better start planning that Christmas shopping!) I thought it was the perfect time to start reviewing the more festive titles from my Bookish Gift Guide for the Holidays. And I couldn't have picked a better novel than the I'll Be Home for Christmas anthology from Stripes Publishing. Not only is it jam-packed with a wide array of great stories from some of the hottest voices in British young adult fiction, but at least £1 from every copy sold goes directly to homelessness charity Crisis.
I don't often read short stories that aren't set in a world I'm already familiar with nor have a focus on characters I already love. The limited amount of pages dedicated to developing the story and characters in a short in my honest opinion doesn't allow for an emotional connection or to fully emerge myself in an author's writing. And yet... The Stripes Publishing anthology sounded wonderful and includes some of my favourite YA authors so I couldn't not read it.
And for the most part I was pleasantly surprised to be proven wrong. I didn't absolutely love all of the contributions, but then again, that is to be expected with so many different voices collaborating on one piece. The ones I connected with the least, other readers might most enjoy and vice versa. What I did love thoroughly about each and every one of the stories was that they all emanated the theme of home; whether literally, focusing on a house someone grew up in, or as a concept creating the atmosphere and feeling that home means to so many people. The variety of interpretations within this anthology is huge and I loved discovering all the different meanings of this single word through the diverse range of stories.
Particular highlights included the very moving Routes and Wings by Lisa Williamson (my absolute favourite within the novel and I didn't expect anything less from the author of one of my top reads of 2016, The Art of Being Normal), heartbreaking The Letter by Tracy Darnton (winner of the Stripes YA Short Story Prize), beautiful Amir and George by Sita Brahmachari, haunting The Afterschool Club by Holly Bourne, terrifying Claws by Tom Becker, heartwarming Family You Choose by Cat Clarke, and chilling sci-fi story Only in my Dreams by Marcus Sedgwick. These stories were so good that they left a lasting impression, and I do hope that some of the authors involved take the opportunity to expand upon their often often open-ended creations, as I'm desperate to read more!
And with temperatures dropping below zero this week, anything we can do to help the unfortunate people spending the night outdoors is important too. Normally I'd be a big advocate of libraries and encouraging people to borrow books from there if they can't afford purchasing new releases continuously, however in this instance I definitely urge you to buy a copy at full price. I'll Be Home for Christmas would make a great gift for a friend or family member if you don't know their favourite authors (as so many worked on this book there is bound to be one in there this person enjoys) but, most of all, in a small and very easy way you're also helping people who don't have a home this Christmas – and everyone should have one.
Many thanks to the publisher for a copy of the novel in exchange for an honest review.
I'll Be Home For Christmas is published by Stripes Publishing and you can get your copy from Foyles or your own preferred retailer.