My rating: 4 of 5 stars.
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. They 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.