The extended exploration of Amelia’s inner landscape doesn’t sustain interest, though, and the bias of the concept as...

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THE CAROLYNE LETTERS

A STORY OF BIRTH, ABORTION AND ADOPTION

In 1963, an unwed, pregnant 20-year-old attending college in Scotland faces a difficult decision: keep the baby, put it up for adoption or abort it.

What does she choose? Bizarrely, all three. In this long and wearying tale, Amelia, remarkably self-focused, relates her experiences and thoughts in diary format. In the first section, she barely rejects abortion and puts the child, Carolyne, up for adoption. She eventually summarizes, in a long letter to her daughter, written 21 years later, all the reasons for her not-fully-satisfactory decision, making clear that she has never stopped mourning the girl. In the second part, readers plod through the tale again as Amelia reluctantly chooses an abortion then descends into deep depression, 21 years later writing a sad letter to her (nonexistent) daughter, describing her rationalized justifications. In the final section, a largely contented Amelia keeps the baby. Her level of satisfaction belies the difficulties that choice, too, must have entailed, diminishing its credibility. The prose is at times attractive, and readers learn much about the protagonist—especially after reading through the story three times—making for a thoroughly developed main character.

The extended exploration of Amelia’s inner landscape doesn’t sustain interest, though, and the bias of the concept as presented is unlikely to provide much enlightenment to young women sharing Amelia’s plight. (Historical fiction. 12 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-938301-15-5

Page Count: 226

Publisher: Familius

Review Posted Online: July 31, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2013

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A change of pace from the teeming swarms of fantasy and paranormal romance but too underpowered to achieve escape velocity.

FUTUREDAZE

AN ANTHOLOGY OF YA SCIENCE FICTION

A low-wattage collection of original stories and poems, as unmemorable as it is unappealingly titled.

The collection was inspired by a perceived paucity of short science fiction for teen readers, and its production costs were covered by a Kickstarter campaign. The editors gather a dozen poems and 21 stories from a stable of contributors who, after headliners Jack McDevitt and Nancy Holder, will be largely unknown even to widely read fans of the genre. The tales place their characters aboard spacecraft or space stations, on other worlds or in future dystopias, but only rarely do the writers capture a credibly adolescent voice or sensibility. Standouts in this department are the Heinlein-esque “The Stars Beneath Our Feet,” by Stephen D. Covey & Sandra McDonald, about a first date/joyride in space gone wrong, and Camille Alexa’s portrait of a teen traumatized by a cyberspace assault (“Over It”). Along with a few attempts to craft futuristic slang, only Lavie Tidhar’s fragmentary tale of Tel Aviv invaded by successive waves of aliens, doppelgangers, zombies and carnivorous plants (“The Myriad Dangers”) effectively lightens the overall earnest tone. Aside from fictional aliens and modified humans, occasional references to dark skin (“Out of the Silent Sea,” Dale Lucas) are the only signs of ethnic diversity. Most of the free-verse poetry makes only oblique, at best, references to science-fictional themes.

A change of pace from the teeming swarms of fantasy and paranormal romance but too underpowered to achieve escape velocity. (author bios) (Science fiction/short stories. 12-14)

Pub Date: Feb. 12, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-9847824-0-8

Page Count: 290

Publisher: Underwords

Review Posted Online: Dec. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2013

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DEATH BENEFITS

In this character-driven intergenerational story, Royce Peterson and his single mother have recently moved from Nova Scotia to British Columbia to help care for Arthur, Royce’s 95-year-old grandfather and one of the greatest cellists of the 20th century. After the curmudgeon chases off every aide, the teen is enlisted to watch his grandfather. At first the homesick, friendless and mono-recovering teen and his homebound, rude and crude grandfather are at odds, but then Royce gains new appreciation for Arthur—he caroused with Gloria Vanderbilt and Picasso, traveled the world, loved and lost loves—and Arthur begins to appreciate life again. But just as the pair begins to respect each other, Arthur suffers a series of debilitating strokes and asks Royce to end his life. Inspired by her experience caring for her aged father, Harvey offers a realistic view of the aging process, the difficult decisions left to loved ones and the need for friends and family. Sophisticated readers and fans of Joan Bauer’s Rules of the Road (1998) or Louis Sachar's The Cardturner (2010) will enjoy the grandfather-grandson banter and tenderness. (Fiction. 13 & up)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-55146-226-2

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Orca

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2010

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