Review of: Vanilla

Reviewed by:
On August 20, 2014
Last modified:August 24, 2014


22029529Title: Vanilla
Author: Dirk Flinthart
Genre: science fiction, near future, aliens

This is the part of my 100 Short Stories in 2014 challenge. This story is also part of the crowdfunded anthology Kaleidoscope, that I helped fund.

To me this was a really brave story. The story is about an Australian-somali teenage girl, Kylie Haward, who befriend some alien creatures who settled on Earth after their world was destroyed.

Her father really wants her to be an Australian girl, but he still put the moral restrictions on her that he have brought with him from Somalia. He says they are no longer muslim but at the same time he is horrified by the clothing that her classmates wears. He will not let her go out with boys – but she should be just like any other australian teenage girl. Like I said mixed signals. He tries to distance himself from other somali people living in Australia. Kylie has to try to figure out who she is with these mixed signals going on. I think this is a dilemma many first and second generation youths face all over the world.

At the same time she tries to form a friendship with the aliens – who are indeed very alien. Some of the most alien aliens I have seen in a long time. She is very interested in their biology, in their history, in their culture and in the psychology. She truly tries to understand them – unlike most other people in her school. It is wonderful to watch from her point of view in journal form. The journal form gives the story a sense of authenticity that I think would otherwise be missing.

The story also deals with the weird way that some institution tires to brand them self as open and diverse without really doing a whole lot more than accept the students into their student body. How proud they are of their efforts – like it shouldn’t be the most natural thing to do – the decent thing to do.

The story is very much one about friendship, about being an outsider, about belonging and about identity. I really enjoyed the story and I really felt for Kylie. Great story.

 The stats

Published:  August 2014 by Twelfth Planet Press
Anthology: Kaleidoscope: Diverse YA Science Fiction and Fantasy Stories
Read: 6. August, 2014
Length: Short story
Format: e-book

The author: male, white, Australian
The protagonist: Kylie Haward, female, teenager, strait, poc, Australian-somali.

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