Seven frighteningly unsentimental stories about childhood and youth.
When a story begins with two adolescent boys stringing up and torturing kittens, as in “A Marmalade Cat for Jenny,” you get a feeling that doom is going to pervade the narrative, and it does. Jenny is being sexually abused by her father, and Mark comes to the rescue by killing him. Mark is eventually sentenced to prison until he turns 21, after which he and Jenny get back together—and Jenny quickly gets pregnant. The narrator of the story is Jenny’s brother, Scott, and Jenny reminds him at the end of the story that he's not as pure as he likes to think. As the narrator comments in “Bleary,” the name of the Bleary Center for Today’s Youth “says it all.” The narrator here is among the first to be sent to this correctional facility in Alberta. His offense doesn’t involve hanging kittens but rather pyromania—he sets people’s garbage cans on fire. Another unrelentingly grim story is “runawaybitch13,” which sets up a relationship between a 13-year-old girl (the narrator, known only as “M—”) and Justin, a clerk in his mid-20s who thinks he's a werewolf and even wears a vial of blood around his neck. For two months they hang out together, and he introduces her to WolfDen, a werewolf Internet site. Eventually, at her instigation, Justin and the girl slaughter her family, and the story ends with a flat newspaper account of the tragedy.
Vivid writing but harsh and uninviting tales.