Going to the library to find a book for this month’s (last-minute) review, I didn’t have my mind set on anything in particular. I picked a few books from the shelves, browsed a few covers, and finally spied David Levithan’s How They Met and Other Stories. Having read a few books by him before, I felt pretty confident going into this one. I feel a little guilty going with something I was likely to enjoy, but let’s be honest–I don’t exactly want to choose a book that I won’t like, right?
Anyway, on to the review.
How They Met was a fun read because I don’t often choose books of short stories. Each story in the book chronicles the meeting of a couple in some way or another: some include the build-up to the first meeting; others begin with the meeting and move onto the relationship, and sometimes to the end of it. The concept of short stories with an overarching theme–meetings–is intriguing as each story shows how differently that idea can be interpreted by the same person a number of times.
Probably my favorite piece was “The Number of People Who Meet on Planes.” It was a fascinating look at the idea of luck, either genuine or manufactured. It tells the story of a couple who (surprise) meet on a plane, how far the relationship evolves, and just how they came together on the perfect plane ride. Impressively, the piece manages to create a whole history of this couple in the length of a short story, without feeling like it would be necessary to add anything more.
One story I had a hard time with was “Andrew Chang,” not because there was an inherent problem, but because it wasn’t as in-depth as others. It felt like a glance at the relationship compared to the other stories, which allowed me enough time to really get close to the characters. “Andrew Chang” felt too superficial to get really attached to. It read like a story that you would hand into a creative writing class, only to get it back with a comment about how you could expand on a lot of it.
One of my favorite details of this book is how it includes more than just your average boy-girl love stories. Having already read Levithan’s Boy Meets Boy, I went into this book assuming at least some of the stories would include same-sex couples, and some of those were my favorites to read. The best part was that you didn’t always know right away if the narrator was a boy or a girl, emphasizing the point that it wasn’t really about that, although it is a big part, but about the love.
Overall, this was a fun read full of variety–in the characters, in the stories, and in the range of emotions I felt while reading. There were happy endings, sad endings, and even some neutral, and I’m not regretting picking up How They Met from the library.