Book Review // All Out – History Has Never Been as Straight As You Think

all out anthologyDetails
All Out: The No-Longer-Secret Stories of Queer Teens Throughout The Ages
Edited By: 
Saundra Mitchell
Saundra Mitchell, Anna-Marie McLemore, Natalie C. Parker, Nilah Magruder, Mackenzi Lee, Robin Talley, Malinda Lo, Dahlia Adler, Kate Scelsa, Elliot Wake, Scott Tracey, Tess Sharpe, Alex Sanchez, Kody Keplinger, Sara Farizan, Tessa Gratton, Shaun David Hutchinson, Tehlor Kay Mejia
Harlequin Teen
Anthology, Historical, Fantasy
February 27, 2018
Trigger Warnings:
I don’t have any because I read this so long ago before I decided I needed to start making an actual effort at TWs. Likely there was homophobia, transphobia (I think in Every Shade of Red??? Maybe???)
Representation*: OMG, so much!! I will include rep for each story as I go! But safe to say this is heavy gay, I love it.

Synopsis**: Take a journey through time and genres and discover a past where queer figures live, love and shape the world around them. Seventeen of the best young adult authors across the queer spectrum have come together to create a collection of beautifully written diverse historical fiction for teens.
From a retelling of Little Red Riding Hood set in war-torn 1870s Mexico featuring a transgender soldier, to two girls falling in love while mourning the death of Kurt Cobain, forbidden love in a sixteenth-century Spanish convent or an asexual girl discovering her identity amid the 1970s roller-disco scene, All Out tells a diverse range of stories across cultures, time periods and identities, shedding light on an area of history often ignored or forgotten.

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This anthology is goddamn important.

If we must lie to the world to be true to our hearts, then we would.

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All Out is an anthology written by LGBTQIAP+ authors for LGBTQIAP+ readers.

Historical fiction has long been monopolized by straight people. Often this is explained away as being historically accurate as if we queers haven’t always existed.

Sorry to burst your bubble but yes, we have always existed y’all just like to call us ‘very close friends’ or erase people’s bisexuality because they were in a m/f romance at some point.

Now the gays are staking their claim on their own history and I could not be more excited.

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We had done this: Robin’s lost boys and lost girls, the children society had thrown away. We’d woven together a family of orphans and outcasts and exiles. Not one of us shared blood. Not one of us would balk at spilling our own blood for a brother or sister.

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⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⛈All Out // Review⛈ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⭐⭐⭐⭐ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Historical fiction has long been monopolized by straight people. Often this is explained away as being historically accurate as if we queers haven't always existed. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Now the gays are staking their claim on their own history and I could not be more excited. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ “My father had said, "If it happens again, I will kill him." ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Then you may as well kill me, too, I'd screamed with my hands, stabbing my finger at my own heart.” ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ All Out is an anthology written by LGBTQIAP+ authors for LGBTQIAP+ readers. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Every Shade of Red is the diverse af retelling of Robin Hood we all deserve. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ No seriously. I loved it. I loved it so much I didn't want it to end and certainly not like that. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ This story broke my heart but was so gentle with it up until the drop. It was just so damn beautiful. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ I loved every single thing about it, from Trans Robin, deaf Will and a band of queer misfits making a family and home from themselves because the ones they were born into refuse to accept them for who they are. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ❔: What is your favourite anthology? ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ❕ : I’m sure it comes as a surprise to literally no one that All Out is mine! ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ 💻If you want to check out more of my reviews, I post full reviews on my blog. Link Tree in bio💻 ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ — #allout #Saundramitchell #AnnaMarieMcLemore #NatalieCParker #NilahMagruder #MackenziLee #RobinTalley #MalindaLo #DahliaAdler #KateScelsa #ElliotWake #ScottTracey #TessSharpe #AlexSanchez #KodyKeplinger #SaraFarizan #TessaGratton #ShaunDavidHutchinson #TehlorKayMejia #everyshadeofred #bookreview #Bookstagramfeature #Bookstagrammer #Bibliophhile #Bookish #Bookblogger #Bookphotography #IReadYA #Booksofinstagram #instabooks

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This anthology was so damn enjoyable that I didn’t want to put it down.

Honestly, I just couldn’t wait for Elliot Wake’s story because I am trash for his writing but there were so many great stories in here that I didn’t even mind the wait!

Stories that are so good they are worth buying this whole anthology for just them alone are;

☁️ Roja by Anna-Marie McLemore
☁️ Burnt Ember by Mackenzie Lee
☁️ Molly’s Lips by Dahlia Adler
☁️ The Coven by Kate Scelsa
☁️ Every Shade of Red by Elliot Wake
☁️ Willows by Scott Tracey
☁️ Three Witches by Tessa Gratton
☁️ Healing Rosa by Tehlor Kay Mejia

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That was how Léon and I left them, both of us showing hearts so fierce these men considered them knives.
We left them with the salt-sting memory of us, a brazen girl, and a boy with a heart so fearless wolves were his guardian saints.

☁️│Roja│Anna-Marie McLemore│El Bajio, México, 1870││f/m, trans love interest, Latinx MC│

Roja follows a burja as she works to free her love from imprisonment.

This story was so beautiful and every time I read one of Anna-Marie McLemore’s stories in an anthology I am reminded that I need to read one of her books.

I love magical realism and more than that, I love playing with the idea of cursed families and anger; how to use it and not let it destroy you.

This story starts the whole book out strong.


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│The Sweet Trade│Natalie C. Parker│Virginia Colony, 1717│3.5‘s│w/w│

The Sweet Trade follows Clara and Pearl as the both escape their husband/husband-to-be in search of adventure as pirates.

This was really cute and had me laughing within the first sentence, unfortunately, that was all it was for me and I wanted something deeper.

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│And They Don’t Kiss At The End│Nilah Magruder│Maryland, 1976│3.5★’s│m/f, ace & black MC, Filipino love interest│

In the time of disco and rollerblades, Dee starts her journey of self-discovery when she questions her sexuality.

This was cute, and Dee’s inner monologue as she’s trying to work out her thoughts and feelings was really accurate, I thought.

Having had a similar conversation with myself before realizing that no, I’m not quite ace but maybe in the grey-ace area, I found this story authentic but really short. I guess I just wanted more.

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“I am the boy most accomplished at not becoming distracted by the first naked woman we draw. Which is something, I suppose.”

│☁️│Burnt Ember│Mackenzie Lee│Netherlands, Amsterdam, 1638││m/m│

Burnt Ember shares the story of a budding painter who has no difficulties painting nude subjects until one of the subjects is his crush, an ex-classmate.

I love Mackenzie Lee’s sense of humour so much!

Just the awkward and cringey conversations a young person can have with their crush when their flustered and overwhelmed.

This was hella cute!


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│The Dresser & The Chambermaid│Robin Talley│Kensington Palace, September 1726│ │w/w│

Chambermaid Susannah is very frustrated with the new Dresser Mary who seems to have no idea what her job does and doesn’t include. This story follows these two girls as they learn from each other how to do regal hair and how to fall in love.

This was cute but boring. It felt like it went far longer than the story needed.

I don’t know, this just didn’t do it for me.

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│New Year│Malinda Lo│San Francisco-January 21, 1955││No Romance, Chinese-American sapphic MC, drag/trans side character│

Lily is super intrigued by the queer scene of San Francisco, especially a certain someone who catches her eye at her friend’s family restaurant.

Uhhhhh, I kinda can’t really tell you much about this one because it was a little forgettable for me.

I remember it feeling disjointed and that I couldn’t get into it and not much else.

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“He has a daughter now,” she’d said so many times, tracing glossy magazine photos of Frances Bean with her finger and a wistful sigh that told me she would’ve given anything to trade place with the blond infant. “He’ll fix himself for her. Watch.”
I watched. It broke my fucking heart.

│☁️│Molly’s Lips│Dahlia Adler│Seattle— April 10, 1994││w/w│

Molly’s Lips follows Annabelle as she and her best friend Molly celebrate Kurt Cobain’s life and mourn his death and shows us how, in grief, we can remember the important things in life, like showing our love for one another.


I loved it, it was heart wrenching and beautiful and their friendship was so pure and god this was wonderful.

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I had been planning on trying to kiss Vivie for a month at this point. The idea occurred to me one day and then I just decided that I would do it. I was simply taking my time. I watched the other women in the cafe with jealousy—the girls who held hands and wore pants and didn’t seem to care what anyone thought. I wanted to say to Vivie “We are like them,” but what we had felt like a magic spell that I was afraid to break.

│☁️│The Coven│Kate Scelsa│Paris, 1924││w/w, Neurodiversity│

The Coven follows Dean as her best friend Vivie seeks to become the next great writer and Dean seeks to clear her brain of the fog and maybe get a kiss from Vivie too.

I really liked this, I identified with Dean when it came to brain fog as someone who has battled mental illness and FMS which makes brain fog a regular visitor.

I love the whole witchy lesbian vibes this story was giving.


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Forty lashes, but forty-five marks on that boy’s back—five of which were mine. As I watched him writhe I could still feel his taut muscles moving against my skin, smell the salt and sea musk of his sweat.
My father had said, “If it happens again, I will kill him.”
Then you may as well kill me, too, I’d screamed with my hands, stabbing my finger at my own heart.

│☁️│Every Shade of Red│Elliot Wake│England, Late Fourteenth Century││m/m, deaf MC, trans love interest, queer POC cast (w/w, ace)│

Every Shade of Red is the diverse af retelling of Robin Hood we all deserve.

No seriously. I loved it. I loved it so much I didn’t want it to end and certainly not like that.

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⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀ ⛈All Out // Moodboard⛈⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀ 🎶And I need you to trust⠀ That I'm lost and we must⠀ Get past all these rules⠀ We must choose⠀ To reach out and touch🎶⠀ 🎵Touch – Troye Sivan🎵⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀ For Moodboard Friday I wanted to share a piece for my favourite short story from the All Out anthology!⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀ Every Shade of Red by Elliot Wake changed me…But what’s new when it comes to his writing???⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀ Think Robin Hood but queer! We get trans Robin Hood, gay and deaf Will and a whole gang of queer kids trying to find a place to be their true selves.⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀ There were so many tears shed while reading this. I loved it so much!⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀ ❔: What childhood tale would you love to see a queer retelling of?⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀ ❕ : There are so many to choose from but I would love to see a Mulan retelling where Mulan is a cannon trans man and Shang is canon bisexual. I’ll take even more queerness but those are the two I would love the most!⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀ Keep your eyes peeled because my review for All Out is coming tomorrow and I’ll be focusing on Every Shade of Red!⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀ “Language is not only words. We speak with our whole bodies, with gesture and glance, with touch. We had told each other a thousand times with steady hands and the searing insides of our mouths: “You are the boy I love.”⠀ Now he told me again as I stared up into the night, the stars switching on, disintegrating the sky into glitter, a dark body slowly consumed with light. ”⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀ 💻If you want to check out more of my reviews, I post full reviews on my blog. Link Tree in bio💻⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀ —⠀ #allout #ElliotWake #Everyshadeofred #moodboard #Bookstagramfeature #Bookstagrammer #Bibliophhile #Bookish #Bookblogger #Bookphotography #LibraryofBookstagram #IReadYA #Booksofinstagram #instabooks

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This story broke my heart but was so gentle with it up until the drop. It was just so damn beautiful.

I loved every single thing about it, from Trans Robin, deaf Will and a band of queer misfits making a family and home from themselves because they ones they were born into refuse to accept them for who they are.

Elliot Wake, you are cruel but also can you write a whole book dedicated to this story??? Seriously, I need more of it NOW!

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Sebastian said nothing. Some thought the blacksmith’s boy simple, but it was just that he chose his words with a sharp-eyed precision. Each was a precious gift he was loath to give away. In some ways, it reminded Benjamin of Mariot, of the way she would wrap up her thoughts and tuck her words into her pockets, only sharing what she could bear to part with.

│☁️│ Willows│Scott Tracey│Southwyck Bay, Massachusetts, 1732││m/m, enby/gender fluid MC??│

Willows follows Benjamin who can remember his past selves in a town where anyone with unnatural abilities is thrown off a cliff.

Guys this one is so fucking weird and yet??? I really liked it.

Don’t get me wrong, I had no idea what was happening or how the magical?? element in this story worked for 90% of the time and yet I didn’t care because I was pulled in straight away and wanted to understand.

Curiosity will be the death of me, honestly.

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│The Girl With The Blue Lantern│Tess Sharpe│Northern California, 1849│3.5‘s│w/w│

A girl takes an ill-advised walk into the forest and meets a wood- sprite who can help her survive the winter until the wood-sprite wants something in return.

So ummm, this is another one I don’t really remember and this is exactly why I should write reviews within a week of reading the damn book but ya girl is behind, man.  

I think it was cute and the writing was pretty??

I just don’t really remember a whole lot which is probably not a good sign for my enjoyment of it.

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│The Secret Life of a Teenage Boy│Alex Sanchez│Tidewater, Virginia, 1969│2.5‘s│m/m MC, Cuban love interest│

The Secret Life of a Teenage Boy follows a boy as he toys with the idea of taking off with an older guy, (ADULT!) to avoid telling his much-loved family that he’s gay, so he can live his truth.

Hmmmmm nope. I just can’t guys, I really can’t.

I know that it’s quite common of LGBT+ kids to venture out with older people when discovering their sexuality for the first time but I can’t with the adults being interested in children.

I get it, there’s not that big of an age gap except they’re both in completely different stages of their lives and with different maturity levels and I hate it.

Also the entire time I was getting serial killer vibes because this is exactly how every cautionary tale of a boy who goes missing after running away with an adult man begins.

Every single one of them, and do you know how they end??? With the boy dead.

I will admit that I really loved the MC’s relationship with his sister and how she was encouraging of him to be who he truly is but girl, don’t encourage him to go with the possible serial killer, your mum is right to be wary.

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│Walking After Midnight│Kody Keplinger│Upstate New York, 1952│3.5‘s│w/w, demi MC??│

Walking After Midnight follows Betsy, a teenage actress that can’t help feeling washed-up and passed her prime already as she takes a night stroll with Laura, a waitress at a small town diner.

This was cute and all but also kinda meh.

Like enjoyed their conversation but I also could have done with more of just about everything.

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│The End of the World As We Know It│Sara Farizan│Massachusetts, 1999││w/w, Turkish MC│

The End of the World As We Know It follows two ex-best friends as they become reacquainted when facing the end of times.

I loved this story, it was so cute and fluffy but also didn’t shy away from showing the dynamics of female friendship and how it can turn south.

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The Holy Mother was a virgin who never knew any man, and so is Violante. She prays, she knows the ecstasy of love and longing, desire, and the pure, perfect happiness of hands-on hands, lips on lips, the breeze of fluttered lashes. Yet she has never known any man.
Is that not perfect love?

│☁️│Three Witches│Tessa Gratton│Kingdom of Castile, 1519││w/w│

Three Witches follows a girl who has been sent off to a conversion therapy facility by her own brother for her love of women, and the nun who nurses her back to health.

Read this and try and tell me you are not changed by the end of it.

I finished this feeling so many things most of which were a mixture of hopeful and broken.

Ugh, I don’t know how to put into words how beautiful this story is????

I just loved it so much.

This book hit the nail on the head when it comes to questioning how something everyone tells you is wrong and is a sin can be a part of who you are, something that you cannot change no matter how much you want it to, or try to pray it away.

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│The Inferno & The Butterfly│Shaun David Hutchinson│London, 1839│3.5‘s│m/m│

The Inferno & The Butterfly follows two magician’s assistants as they work to set each other free.

This was good, I just didn’t really connect to it that much and felt kinda meh about it by the end.

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“What does it matter if he understands? You’ll be alive! We’ll be together!”
“I’m all he has,” she said, and her tone told me her decision had been made.
“So you’ll die? You’ll die so he doesn’t have to face his own prejudice?”
Her eyes filled with tears, and I hated myself for them. “He’s my father. I’m sorry.” she turned away. She ran. She didn’t look back.

│☁️│Healing Rosa│Tehlor Kay Mejia│Luna County, New Mexico, 1933││w/w, Latinx MC│

Healing Rosa follows a Bruja who learned the craft from her grandmother and now must use her gift to save the love of her life. Except that the father of her love refuses to let her help, putting his own daughter’s life at risk.

I loved this story so fucking much.

This story reminded me of all the healing women in my family and how fucking frustrating it can be to not be allowed to just help someone, especially someone you love, because of another person’s biases and prejudices.

I just- It’s just-. Ugh. It’s beautiful and heart-wrenching. Go read it.

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We lived. We survived to whisper our names to each other even if we could not yet confess them to anyone else.

As a whole, I really enjoyed this anthology! Like a lot, but I already knew that would be the case.

If you’re craving queer stories, want to see queer people in history, want to read something incredibly diverse, or just want a really good anthology, I beg you to pick this up. It shares both the heartbreaking and hopeful stories of LGBT+ youth throughout history.

My only complaint was that the settings were only in America and Europe and like, us gays are everywhere, man. I wish this collection had reflected that. I also wish there had been more stories from further back in history. I want gay stories from as far back as humanity existed! 

“That is the secret to survival. Teach fear to those who taught you to be afraid.”

4 Clouds

Where to buy
Goodreads│💲Book DepositoryKindle│***

Representation will be an amalgamation of Nadia’s, Elise’s & Destiny’s reviews because, again, this was before I really tried to take proper notes during reading.
Taken from Goodreads.
If you would like me to include links to purchase books from a specific store in my reviews please let me know!
💲I receive a small commission off the following link

I read this book as part of my 2018 Library Love binge, where I read as many library books as possible to take advantage of my great local library network!
To follow my binge reading adventure just visit my 2018 Library Love shelf.
Or I’ll also be updating my 2018 Library Love Blog Post as I go!

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Have you read All Out?
What did you think of it?
What’s your favourite anthology?


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4 thoughts on “Book Review // All Out – History Has Never Been as Straight As You Think

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