I am not usually a fan of short story series. A well-crafted stand-alone short story is one thing, but I tend to find short story collections to be obscure, unrelated, and uninteresting. However, David Levithan's collection How They Met and Other Stories was entertaining and engrossing. This collection of stories, some penned by Levithan in high school, about lovers from all walks of life and in all stages of their respective relationships was touching and most importantly honest. Although the protagonists are not related nor do the stories overlap, I couldn't help but imagine the characters as all members of the same high school class or community - not friends, but acquaintances - and the reader gets to glimpse their private flirtations and frustrations reminding us of the common need we all have to be desired and cherished.
Although most of the stories are told from a teenager's point of view, my favorite of the bunch, "The Number of People Who Meet on Airplanes," follows a couple from their first meeting (on an airplane) to their celebration of ten years together. That kind of longevity is merely wished for nowadays, but Levithan demonstrates in simple prose how the unlikeliest of meeting places and people can come together to create a lifetime of shared memories. This theme is apparent in another of my favorite pieces in the series, the title story "How They Met," that details the blossoming of relationships between the narrator's grandparents and parents that ultimately led to the existence of the narrator. Levithan's interest in family dynamics is precluded by "What a Song Can Do," which begins with a struggle to balance a love of music with a lover's differing interests but ends as a meditation on the accepting love between mother and son. Each story demonstrates in one way or another that true love is about the courage to be yourself in every relationship - faults and all - and that's a lesson worth learning.
Best matched with anyone who has ever fallen in (or out) of love...and hopes to do it again.