TOGETHER, APART | Love During a Pandemic


Love is hard. From awkward dates to difficult conversations, it can be a struggle to find someone you want to spend your life with.

And it’s even harder during a pandemic.

I haven’t had much luck in love myself, and after stress-texting a friend for the millionth time about my panic over how I’m supposed to find a boyfriend when we can’t even be within six feet of each other, I decided to pick up Together, Apart, an anthology written by nine amazing authors that’s all about people finding love during the coronavirus pandemic. 

And I’m so glad I did.

I enjoyed the varied stories and relationships, from two feuding teens enacting a full-scale competition involving their balcony gardens to two boys who meet during their socially distanced dog-walking brigade to two roommates realizing their shared feelings by being stuck together during quarantine to other amazing stories. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this anthology. However, my top three favorite stories are: 1) “One Day” by Sajni Patel; 2) “Love, Delivered” by Erin A. Craig; and 3) “Masked” by Erin Hahn. Let’s break them down below.

“One day, quarantine would be lifted. One day, we’d be able to get within six feet and not need face masks and I’d be able to see his dimples in person…. ‘One day’ couldn’t come soon enough, but it would come. I couldn’t wait for our ‘one day.’” —“One Day” by Sajni Patel

Sajni Patel’s fantastic story “One Day” revolves around two teens on different balconies. Our protagonist, Bobby, is a stressed teenage girl whose house is too loud and too chaotic with multiple Zoom meetings and classes. To take a break from the noise, she escapes to her balcony, but there she discovers a teenage boy on another balcony playing his guitar. In an effort to stop him and finally get some peace and quiet, she throws her shoe. While the shoe doesn’t hit him, it does launch a campaign for him to get her number that soon involves the neighbors—and her heart.

I related the most to this story because of the descriptions of the sheer chaos the pandemic has inspired inside individual homes. As someone on Zoom for quite a few hours a day, I understand the need for quiet to cure a stabbing headache. I also thought this story had a good structure, and the romance was fun. I too am relying on the hope that “one day,” I’ll be able to meet people face-to-face again, but until that day, Zoom will have to do.

“This stupid, stupid virus. It was ruining everything.” —“Love, Delivered” by Erin. A Craig

In “Love, Delivered” by Erin A. Craig, teenager Millie’s family moves from Tennessee to Michigan during the pandemic so her pathologist parents can help out at the local hospital. Alone in the house with only moving boxes and disconnected Wi-Fi to keep her company, Millie befriends the cute pizza delivery boy. As they bond over their love of the horror genre and delicious cake, Millie realizes that living in her new town might not be so bad after all.

This is the first story in the anthology, and I thought it was a great way to start. I related to Millie’s experience with moving and starting over in a new town with no friends as I’ve had to do that a couple of times myself…although not in a pandemic, which is definitely harder. Her struggle with different elements of the virus was also relatable and gave me a glimpse of life with two parents working in a hospital during these rough times. Millie’s character came to life on the page with justifiable frustration, and it was fun watching her friendship with Luka bloom. I would love to read what happens next between these two characters!

 “Desperate times call for desperate measures, and it doesn’t get more desperate than a worldwide pandemic.” —“Masked” by Erin Hahn

Finally, Erin Hahn’s story “Masked” is a fun look at how an idea for what to do with a prom dress can turn into a relationship with a guy. When teenager Gray, lover of White Christmas and seamstress extraordinaire, realizes that she can’t wear her perfect dress to prom because it was cancelled due to the pandemic, she decides to cut it up and sew masks out of the material instead. While advertising the masks on her neighborhood’s app, Gray meets Jude whose uncle needs masks for his business. The two teens begin messaging back and forth, but when Gray starts to discover the truth about Jude’s identity, she has to decide if their relationship will be too much to handle or if she’s alright stepping out from backstage and into the spotlight.

With all the prom cancellations this past spring, this story is ideal for anyone who didn’t get a chance to use their perfect outfit. The romance is really fun in this story, and I loved the twist at the end. The dual narration of the story helped develop both characters and bring them to life. Even though I didn’t face the struggle with prom being cancelled, I enjoyed the creativity that this story offered. 

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this anthology and getting ideas for how I too might be able to find love during this pandemic. The three stories mentioned above, as well as the other six, were fun to dive into, especially because they all take place during this historic moment that we’re living through. 

Who knows? Maybe I’ll run into someone in the takeout line at a restaurant and strike up a conversation. Or I’ll meet someone in my neighborhood as I’m walking my dog. Perhaps someone in one of my Zoom classes and I will start chatting and really hit it off. Or maybe I’ll have to wait until the pandemic is over to find that special someone. Whatever happens, I now know that love can prevail even through our darkest times and that we can still be together even when we’re apart.

PRR Writer, Wendy Waltrip

Pick up your copy today!