Review: “First-Year Orientation” by edited by Lauren Gibaldi & Eric Smith

Release Date: April 4, 2023
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Genre: Young Adult, Anthologies


Sixteen acclaimed authors–including a National Book Award nominee, a New York Times best-selling novelist, and a beloved actress–join forces for a cross-genre YA anthology of linked short stories about the first days of college.

Jilly cannot believe her parents keep showing up at all of her orientation events. (Except, yes, she can totally believe that.) Isaac wants to be known as someone other than the kid who does magic and has an emotional support bunny. Lilly is stuck working at the college bookstore during orientation (but maybe new friends are closer than they appear). Hira, meanwhile, just wants to retire from ghost hunting once and for all, but a spirit in the library’s romance section has other ideas. For their sophomore effort, the contributing editors behind the critically acclaimed Battle of the Bands admit us to opening day at a fictional college, with a collection that makes an ideal high school graduation gift or “summer-before” read. This colorful array of stories spans genres and moods–from humorous to heartfelt to ghostly–tackling with sensitivity, humor, and warmth what it feels like to take those first shaky steps into adulthood.

With stories by:

Adi Alsaid * Anna Birch * Bryan Bliss * Gloria Chao * Jennifer Chen * Olivia A. Cole * Dana L. Davis * Kristina Forest * Lauren Gibaldi * Kathleen Glasgow * Sam Maggs * Farah Naz Rishi * Lance Rubin * Aminah Mae Safi * Eric Smith * Phil Stamper

My Thoughts

This was such a nice young adult fiction anthology. The stories are all set at Rolland College, a fictional school in New Jersey. Much like Lauren Gibaldi and Eric Smith’s last anthology Battle of the Bands, the stories interweave together and the characters crossover between the sixteen stories. There’s a good range of diversity and representation of marginalized identities. Each of the stories highlights a different aspect of a student’s first arrival on campus as a new undergrad, and all the emotional upheaval and hormonal chaos that entails. 

First-Year Orientation will make this a good book for just about any teen reader. Expect it to be a common high school graduation gift this year.

Available through (affiliate link)

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