Editor: Kelly Milner Halls
Publication Date: 12/28/11
Publisher: Chronicle Books LLC
Blurb (GR): What do guys and girls really think? Twelve of the most dynamic and engaging YA authors writing today team up for this one-of-a-kind collection of "he said/she said" stories-he tells it from the guy's point of view, she tells it from the girl's. These are stories of love and heartbreak. There's the good-looking jock who falls for a dangerous girl, and the flipside, the toxic girl who never learned to be loved; the basketball star and the artistic (and shorter) boy she never knew she wanted; the gay boy looking for love online and the girl who could help make it happen. Each story in this unforgettable collection teaches us that relationships are complicated-because there are two sides to every story.
I cannot start my review of Girl Meets Boy without commenting on its cover. I mean, seriously, look at it! This photo must be the most awkward I have EVER seen. Even Jim C. Hines probably would not undertake replicating this pose, because in which universe is it comfortable, never mind romantic? This cover would have worked if it were designed to be ironic, but alas, this is not the case. It is meant to be taken seriously.
As you can see from the blurb, the anthology's goal was to present a series of stories about (romantic) relationships from the points of view of both parties involved. In theory, considering how differently relationships can be perceived by the participants, this is a very strong concept for a short story collection. However, such approach to story telling, I think, works only if the points of view are drastically dissimilar and do not rehash the same events, etc. There are not many authors that can pull off the double narrator structure (How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr comes to mind as an example of success). More often than not, what happens in many such works, especially romances, is that two narrators are used only for doubling the dosage of love angst and lusting.
Unfortunately, only a couple of story pairs in Girl Meets Boy manage to use the anthology's concept effectively, in those stories people do, in fact, view the relationships they are in differently. The rest of the double stories follow the weaker route, with happy romances viewed exactly in the same light by the couple. In those cases, only the first, original, stories in the pairs are worth reading, and second stories often appear to be fanfictiony rehashes of the same thing.
Why such a high rating from me then?
Well, even though the high concept of the anthology isn't explored to the fullest in Girl Meets Boy, the collection itself is pretty strong. The contributors are almost uniformly critically acclaimed and their stories are generally well written and offer a good variety of romantic teen relationships - you have happy and dangerous romances, couples from different racial, ethnic, religious backgrounds, straight and gay couples. Diversity and quality of writing is what distinguishes Girl Meets Boy from many other YA anthologies.