(Re)Sisters: YA short stories for rebels

Resisters YA short story anthology

Let’s raise our voices in a raucous rebel yell when a bunch of YA short stories comes along with empowerment as its theme. Captivatingly cathartic, YA gives readers a chance to see themselves how they could be – but also how they are. You can’t sugar-coat the truth for ever. Girls don’t benefit from only being portrayed in fiction as sugar and spice and all things nice. It’s therefore a joy to find YA that portrays girls as a dizzying kaleidoscope of strength, vulnerability and potential. Girls don’t need to be pigeonholed into ‘nice’. Girls are everything under the sun!

Even a brief peek at these UK Feminista figures will offer a glimpse into the pressure girls are under today. Girls are burdened by the expectation of how they’re expected to look, think and behave. Girlguiding UK brownies aged 7-10 were asked to describe “Planet Sad” and said it was a place where the inhabitants were bullied about their weight and appearance. When the pressure to conform is wormed into girls at such a young age, it’s rage-fuelling but not surprising that self-harm, mental illness and depression are just some of the key concerns of girls today.

If those brownies were asked to describe another, better planet, they might describe Planet Resist – and it’s the world described by this anthology of YA short stories. You can start gathering your kit and crew to get there. Girls have power and potential, frustrations and fears. They are not all things nice. They experience loss, and isolation, and fear, and doubt. They make choices. They act. They can grasp the mirror to see themselves, not a sugar-pink portrait drawn by someone else. Visible. Proud. Empowered.

In (Re)Sisters you’ll get seventeen stories ranging from girls planning survival schemes on their housing estate to girls taking destiny into their own hands in sci-fi dystopias. What holds these tales together is that these are girls who mostly have a desire to be themselves, undiluted. Making their own choices.

The YA anthology opens with Kin Selection by Eliana Ramage. Adopted Dell has just taken on a senior Bio course in Animal Behaviour. She could have chosen any course from “Bones, Stars, Dinosaurs, Weather, Rocks for Jocks” and she’s worried that “the last thing the Navajo Nation needs is a sub-par behavioural ecologist”. She needs to figure stuff out, and maybe science and friends can help her find her own perspective.

In Spelling It Out by Zoe Apostolides, our girl can spell pretty much anything, but when she develops an affection for her closest rival in a spelling bee, she’ll need to question her areas of focus in more ways than one.

In Vientiane by Elizabeth Byrne, teenage Louise gets tired of being bullied by her friends on a trip to Vietnam. Maybe a mysterious stranger can help her figure out the difference between being ‘lonely’ and ‘alone’.

In Disharmony by Tanvi Berwah, a girl comes of age in a world where terrifying skin-lightening procedures are required by society and law. Is this the kind of world she wants her baby niece to be born into?

In Upside Down by Alaina Symanovich, Kate wears Ari’s clothes, and Ari’s perfume, and treats people the way Ari treated her. But nothing ever stays the same as it was. Everything changes, held together by the scent of mangoes and mint…

Those stories are just a taste.Some will warm you. Some will make you burn with rage, perhaps to rise unscathed and stronger from the flames. Content warnings are listed on the back. With empowerment at its core, the book enables you to choose what works for you.

These gorgeously written tales are fiction with a truth at its core. They’re a celebration of teenage girls, but also an invitation. Do you have a moment and a mirror? Come closer to the mirror and love what you see in the eyes of the person looking back.

(Re)Sistance comes in many forms. The thrilling, delightful, searing, painful, gripping, remarkable stories in this book reveal just a few of them. We can, all of us, resist…

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