Normally I wouldn’t start a review right off the bat with a content warning, but in this case I think it’s necessary. Vignettes includes several subjects that could be deal-breakers for many readers, so better to get those out in the open first. For one thing, one of the stories (“Eliza and Violet (and Sandy)”) describes (though it is mostly in the past) a mentally and physically abusive relationship, one that leaves the protagonist with a permanent injury. It also describes intense BDSM, both inside and outside of that relationship. There is also incest in this collection, including attraction between half-sisters, a stepsister and stepbrother (he calls her “little girl” and “baby girl”), and between a teenager and his biological father.
Which brings us to what I most want to warn about: the age gap relationships and underage sex scenes in this book. This collection includes an erotica story between teenagers (“Victoria and Wen”), a sexual relationship between a teenager and his biological father (he did not raise him), as well as many off-hand references to large age gaps and/or underage sexual partners. These are not generally critiqued or presented as being immoral. Even in stories that don’t focus on these relationships, they often mention a side character’s “very young lover” or “Marge’s latest boy-toy, some kid who is inappropriately young for her and who she likes for precisely that reason.” I asked the author about her choice to include these stories, and this is her response:
The choice to include a wide range of stories, stems from, not only the chance to explore some of my own personal experiences during my time at a private boarding school, but from the desire to push the boundaries and explore different sides of human emotion, and the choices people may make during confusing times, regardless of codes of conduct that would prevail in different circumstances, always in the hope of inspiring thought, and never wanting to offend.