The Official Description: Wen Devante is Insta famous with a massive following and a flare for fashion. At almost 18, they have already published a book on gender nonconformity, released several songs on Spotify and appeared on television. During the first wave of Covid-19 lockdown, they reach out to an unsuspecting Kaye, one of their 2.3 million followers. The two form a bond, first through Instagram messages and then through Zoom. They discover there are ways to have a meaningful relationship despite the bleak circumstances. In fact, the pandemic seems to make reaching out even easier than it used to be.
Part of the Interlude Press Come What May short story project.
Just the facts: gender, nonbinary characters, short story
A beautiful, heart-warming intermission during lock-down. – Kinzie Things
My thoughts bit: I was fortunate enough to be offered an ARC of the new short story by Kevin Craig… “Billions of Beautiful Hearts”. Let me say, this was exactly what my COVID-lock-down-brain needed!
Interlude Press is featuring Kevin’s story as one of four being released for COME WHAT MAY: A month of short stories during the month of February. I have included a link to the publisher below so you can pick up the stories.
The main character, Kaye awakens one morning to find that Instagram-famous Wen has liked one of their posts. In typical teenage fashion, Kaye freaks out a bit… the inner dialogue had me feeling sympathy and still giggling.
“Ugh. I drop my phone again. I shouldn’t be allowed to breathe. I’m such an embarrassment to my people.”
The authenticity of Kaye’s voice was everything I needed. There’s something so heart-achey and beautiful about a person becoming comfortable with who they really are. Sometimes, we just need a little help to share ourselves with the world. And yes! It can be unbelievable that someone wants to get to know us. I could really relate to Kaye having trouble believing that someone wanted to get to know them; I’m sure many readers will identify with that feeling.
I love the way that the author has captured some really important moments in Kaye’s life in such a short work. It’s difficult to give characters the room that they need to bond with readers in a short story, but Kevin has done this perfectly. The word that comes to me repeatedly to describe Kaye is … blossoming. Kevin has described this in a beautiful way… and even those most monumental milestones (like putting pronouns in a bio) are woven into this story seamlessly.
Wen might be insta-famous, but they too are struggling with the pandemic lock-down. While they are the person initiating the one-on-one connection… soon these two souls find themselves bonding over their shared challenges, accomplishments, and hopes. The friendship and love that grows between Kaye and Wen is lovely.
Kevin also sums up the way the lock-down has gone for many of us. There are humorous depictions of the baking stages of lock-down, quips about never wanting to hear the words “bubble” or “zoom” again… so many things these two main characters discuss are things that will make readers feel like we are all in this together.
“I wonder if anyone else in the world is a smidge better off because of the pandemic. I know it’s strange to say, but for some reason, this experience has finally allowed me to be myself.”
I think what I enjoyed the most about this story was how positive it is. Don’t get me wrong, I love dramatic stories, and I certainly value stories that feature the more tragic side of life, but this short story brought me joy. That’s no small feat these days!
Other books by Kevin Craig: I have reviewed other titles by Kevin Craig and the links are below.
I received an ARC of Billions of Beautiful Hearts by Kevin Craig from Interlude Press in exchange for an unbiased review.