Who’s Loving You? is a wonderfully inclusive collection that sadly falls into the common pitfalls of short story collections: some stories are good, others not so much. Each story in Who’s Loving You? was written and focuses on women of colour (most of them British). You could definitely tell that many of the authors included in this collection are relatively new to the writing scene, and, while that is not necessarily a negative thing, their stories definitely bore the signs of their inexperience (I do not feel ‘nice’ writing this but I prefer honesty to fake praise). The writing was stilted, the dialogues choppy, and the characters came across as relatively one-dimensional. I just have very little patience for clichéd phrases such as someone ‘letting out a breath they didn’t they were holding’. Dio mio! When will this phrase cease to exist?
And, while we do get two wlw love stories and one between a cis man and a transwoman, every other story is uber heteronormative in the most insta-love/boy meets girl way possible. It seems every character in this novel fell in love at first sight and we get some questionable comments about men being so handsome that no one woman in her right mind would decline to have sex with him (urgh).
Some of the love stories had questionable premises, such as the ones for ‘The Waves Will Carry Us Back’ (to be fair, a short story by Edwidge Danticat follows a similar scenario but under her pen, I ‘bought’ into it) and for ‘Motherland’ (which I ended up kind of liking to be fair but still…).
There were stories I liked, such as ‘The Watchers’ (which had a vague star-crossed lovers/soul mates feel to it), ‘Rain…Doubtful’, and ‘Rani’ (even if the story went to great lengths to make the mc seem ‘awkward’). There was one story I actually loved, and that was ‘Long Distance’ by Varaidzo (which was, surprise surprise, very sapphic, and bittersweet).
Some of these stories were set in the near future, one of which was post-covid, while others had vague pre-pandemic settings, and I guess that made things more interesting than having all of the stories share the same backdrop. However, the tonal shift between each story was sometimes jarring, especially with Rowan Hisayo Buchanan’s ‘No One Is Lonely’…that story felt very out of place in this collection.
Prospective readers should not let my less-than-stellar review dissuade them from picking this collection up. It was amazing to read a collection that focused on women of colour falling in and out of love, even if I was not personally taken by its stories. Before making up your mind I reccomend you check out some more positive reviews, especially ones from #ownvoices reviewers.
ARC provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
my rating: ★★★☆☆
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