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LUNCH WITH LENIN by Deborah Ellis


and Other Stories

by Deborah Ellis

Age Range: 14 & up

Pub Date: Nov. 22nd, 2008
ISBN: 978-1-55455-105-7
Publisher: Fitzhenry & Whiteside

Readers of activist and award-winning Canadian novelist Ellis’s novels won’t be surprised that the short fiction collected here deals with substance abuse and impoverished peoples in countries large and small. In “Pretty Flowers,” 12-year-old Tahmina tends her family’s Afghanistan poppy field until it’s destroyed, along with her future, by her government. Fourteen-year-old Pascal in Bolivia serves detention with Father Dominic and learns that the glue-sniffing homeless are people, too, in “Cactus People.” In the standout title story, Valerin’s mother abandons him at Lenin's Tomb when he’s five. The story nicely traces his growth until age 16, when he finds himself caring for a heroin-addicted friend. The stories wear their lessons on their sleeves: The main characters are little more than either their hopes or their problems, the Third World poor have their hopes dashed over and over and privileged teens see how whiney they’ve been and are suitably humbled. This will work best where short fiction is in high demand, but some teens will find it preachy. (Short stories. YA)