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FIRST CROSSING by Donald R. Gallo

FIRST CROSSING

Stories About Teen Immigrants

By Donald R. Gallo

Age Range: 14 & up

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2004
ISBN: 0-7636-2249-4
Publisher: Candlewick

Gallo sets the stage—explaining the rationale for the book and presenting a short biographical sketch of the author after each story—for this well-meaning, uneven anthology. Some of the earlier stories read more like essays, explaining the characters’ problems rather than working as successful fiction. Several of the stories do stand out as slices of life with real characters and a lightness of touch or depth of feeling that make them a pleasure to read. In Lensey Namioka’s “They Don’t Mean It!,” Mary Wang and her friend Kim find out that Chinese customs don’t translate easily into American culture. Alden Carter’s “The Swede” gives readers a horrifying picture of the tormenting of a Swedish teen from the point of view of his American persecutor, while Rita Garcia-Williams illustrates the tensions between two Haitian girls in the ultimately hilarious “Make Maddie Mad.” The anthology’s stronger stories provide insights into human behavior and the universal experiences of being “different.” Let’s hope teens hang on till they get to them. (Fiction. YA)