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  • Nice collection, if you're ready for it

    Together, Apart is a cute and diverse collection of YA romance short stories set during the Covid-19 pandemic. Admittedly, when I began reading, I realized I was not ready to read pandemic stories, but I pushed through my discomfort. And I'm glad I did. There were hits and misses, as is to be expected. A couple of them felt rushed and underdeveloped, and a couple felt contrived. But I appreciate that the collection features diversity on multiple levels, and most of the stories tackle the complex feelings that teens (and frankly all of us) are trying to manage during this pandemic. Having this collection is interesting historically too. Even now while we're still in the throes of the pandemic, these stories were clearly written near the beginning of the experience. We see characters taking strong precautions, which serve as good examples to follow, and spending time in strict lockdowns. A few of the stories end with jarring expressions of hope that the pandemic will be over soon. It's an optimism that might have instilled hope at the time the stories were written but now seem naive, even tragic. Each individual will have to assess for themselves whether they're ready to read a collection like this. There is certainly value here in connecting with the characters and the way they process their situations and feelings. There's solid writing, fun characters, and sweet moments. But for some, the reading experience might be too close to home. I will be interested to see how this collection ages!

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