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ON THE FRINGE by Donald R. Gallo


edited by Donald R. Gallo

Age Range: 12 & up

Pub Date: April 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-8037-2656-2
Publisher: Dial

In the hopes of providing a "greater understanding and tolerance of others," editor Gallo has put together a collection of 11 stories by distinguished writers about kids on the outside, the ones referred to at school as "weirdos, geeks, nerds, freaks, faggots and worse." Dedicated to "every kid who has ever been called a hurtful name" and "to every kid who has tried to feel superior by putting down someone else," this anthology brings home the outcast experience in a vivid, visceral way. Particularly good is M.E. Kerr's engaging offbeat “Great Expectations,” about a boy's surprising relationship with a felon; Will Weaver's “WWJD,” about a troubled, seemingly saintly girl who is finally pushed too far, and Chris Crutcher's “Guns for Geeks,” which stands out from the pack because the voice is so real that it feels like nonfiction. A problem with an anthology of this type is that after a while it suffers from a certain repetitiveness. Whether these adolescents are pariahs because they are obese, have terrible skin, a learning disability, or extraordinary smarts, they are still, from the point of view of their peers, rejects, and as such share the untasty experience of being teased, harassed, or otherwise set upon. Although the authors offer a variety of responses to the problem—passive resistance, speaking out, breaking down, and revenge, to name a few—unfortunately they show all too clearly what high-school outcasts have known all along: just how terrible it is to be different. Potent, disturbing, and heartrending. (Fiction. 12+)