COUNTING STARS by David Almond


Age Range: 14 & up
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In 18 short stories, none previously published here, the author of Heaven Eyes (2001) surveys a child’s world in which love and pain intertwine. The tales are partly autobiographical—or, as he puts it: “They merge memory and dream, the real and the imagined, truth and lies.” After discovering “The Middle of the World” within the circle of his loving family, the young narrator steps out to encounter both abused children (“Loosa Fine”), and damaged elders like Miss Golightly, whose whole history is encompassed by a fetus in a jar and old photos of a uniformed beau. He enjoys concurrent flings with a beautiful visitor and faddish mysticism; travels in a carnival “Time Machine,” discovers supposedly imaginary “Jonadab” on a map, and reports visions of his buried sister among flocks of angels. Almond writes with haunting spareness of these experiences, and also of his father’s death, and his mother’s increasing infirmity—leaving readers to figure out for themselves why people laugh or weep at certain moments, to think about the complex connections between the living and the dead, and to wrestle with troubling questions of morality or religious faith. Some of his experiences are shocking, some uplifting, obliquely amusing, even magical; this is not light or easy reading, but few who tackle it will come away unmoved. (Short stories. YA)

Pub Date: April 9th, 2002
ISBN: 0-385-72946-4
Page count: 176pp
Publisher: Delacorte
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 2002


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