4 Stars, Anthology, Harmony Ink Press, Reviewed by Lana, Young Adult

Review: First Time for Everything – A Harmony Ink Press Anthology

Title: First Time for Everything

Author: Anthology

Publisher: Harmony Ink Press

Pages/Word Count: 350 Pages

Rating: 4 Stars

Blurb: There’s nothing like the first time. Whether it’s a first crush, first date, first kiss, or finding tolerance and approval for the first time, for gay, lesbian, bi, and trans teens—or those still exploring and discovering their sexuality and identity—these important firsts can shape the rest of their lives. Gathering the courage to come out to their families, admit their feelings to a friend, or go to school presenting as the people they really are can be a struggle. But with the support of their allies and their own inner strength, the brave young people in these stories take the first steps toward happiness and living on their own terms. From sweet stories of newly discovered love, humorous accounts of awkward dinners and dances, to fights for acceptance and even survival, the teens in this anthology must face new challenges and rise to meet them. These are the first times they’ll never forget.

Midnight in the Maze by J. Leigh Bailey
A Warrior from a Different Tribe by S.A. Garcia
His World by Eric Gober
Just Right by John Goode
It’s In Their Kiss by Kevay Gray
It’s Not Our Fault by Charli Green
Courting Billy Roth by Nick Hasse
Dressed to Swim by Renee Hirsch
Beautiful by Ella Lyons
First Date by Nicole McCormick
Step by Step by Emily Moreton
Kissing Scars by Jo Ramsey
Dear Cody by Eric Renner
Dating My Best Friend by Caitlin Ricci
Summer Crush by SR Silcox
When Wolverine Met Taylor by Andrea Speed
Me and My Friend by Emery C. Walters
Kiss and Makeup by Allison Wonderland

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Review: First Time for Everything is not your typical anthology of first time stories. It’s a diverse mix of boy/boy, girl/girl, and transgender tales of firsts. The anthology is YA, so there is no graphic content, and I have to be honest and say that reading about lesbian characters doesn’t interest me, so a couple of the stories, though they weren’t bad—the plot and writing were exceptional with all—were just not my usual reading genre. So if you are looking for M/M only, be advised. Also interesting to note, all the transgender stories had a boy to girl transition, and not the other way around. I found this strange because why wouldn’t there be a girl to boy story out there just to balance it out?

The stories ran the gamut from first kisses, first crushes, first realizations of sexual preference, to gender reassignment. All the stories had a sweetness about them, some set in high school, and the high school experience can be very difficult as is. Add in the “are you gay or straight?” or “are you a boy or a girl?” and there’s even more drama. I thought the stories that had younger characters were very well written, and the subject matter, such as gender reassignment, was dealt with very matter-of-fact and with respect, like it was no big deal that a boy changed into a girl over the summer. I’m over simplifying, but it will be nice when the time comes that these changes will not matter anymore. What I loved most was that all of the stories had a loyal best friend who stood fast with his or her friend through tough times. A friend who supported and loved unconditionally, no matter what.

The story that gave me warm and fuzzies was Midnight in the Maze by J. Leigh Bailey. The story is about a 16 year old boy, Joey, who’s never been kissed. He is at a Halloween maze and is mooning over Blake, a straight boy he has a crush on.

Jared is an out and proud creative type who Joey finds interesting in all different ways.

At midnight, Joey is lost in the maze and stumbles into another boy who gives him a scorching kiss and whispers, “Happy Birthday, Joey.” It’s dark and Joey can’t tell who his secret kissing bandit is. Joey unleashes his analytical and detective skills to figure out this mystery. I’m not giving away any spoilers! The story is totally adorable in a sixteen candles kind of way and could probably be a male version of it, a classic 80s story that will put a smile on your face and make you feel nostalgic for your own crush.

First Time for Everything is a different take on first times. It was my first time with some of the subject matter too. It’s worth the read if you are looking for something new.




You can buy First Time for Everything here:

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