I picked up Awake a while back while doing research for my next book, set when Dan is 13. The chance to read some short stories showcasing the point of view of LGBTQ teens seemed like a perfect opportunity. And I was intrigued by the idea of an anthology benefiting the Trevor Project.
The collection is well worth the price, even if the proceeds weren’t going to a nonprofit. The four authors each tackle a different aspect of the experiences LGBTQ teens face daily, bringing them to life in vivid detail. The goal of the book was to give LGBTQ teens stories that reflected their experiences, something they could relate to. Going into writing with the goal of making any point has its hazards. As writers, we run the risk of slipping from storytelling into preaching. These authors didn’t. The characters are realistic, their situations believable. Their roads have bumps; misunderstandings and hostility from friends and family alike. And yet they also show hope, a sense that one day it will get better.
Some of the stories have clear-cut endings, while others are a bit more ambiguous. I found the most powerful one to be Robin Reardon’s “A Line in the Sand,” but the stories are so distinct in style and topic that each reader will likely have a different favorite.
The collection is geared to teens, but anybody can enjoy these stories. For the people who can identify with one of the characters, this collection is a beacon, a reminder that they are not alone. For the rest of us, these stories give us a window into a different experience in life, as all good fiction does. And as we read, we start to find places of common experience with the characters, even though our situations might differ. The best fiction taps into a shared truth, reveals something about our world we might otherwise not see. Awake falls into this category, and is definitely worth reading.