Twelve original stories explore the many issues teenagers face today.
“The classification of living things is called taxonomy,” explains the biology teacher in Kristin Elizabeth Clark’s “The Downside of Fabulous,” and the stories collected in this volume show how teens identify and classify themselves in the taxonomic kingdom of high school life. Finding is the theme behind most stories here—finding a friend, a partner, a voice, a home, courage—and the stories put a human face on the issues teens face: relationships, sexuality, school shootings, immigration, addiction, and death. Kekla Magoon’s “Makeshift” presents a fatherless “half-black girl who looks all white” yearning for a safe home and a sense of belonging. Fourteen-year-old June Bug Jordan in Marcella Pixley’s lyrically written “Hush” copes with a father dying of AIDS. In “Blackbird,” Lilly wants to be more than “the sister of the crazy kid who had shot his girlfriend in the hallway,” and a new friend helps her to find her voice in a story both poignant and hopeful. Most stories are told from a first-person point of view, though a cat narrates Stephen Emond’s “The Night of the Living Creeper,” and speech bubbles carry Faith Erin Hicks’ graphic story “Untitled.” The stories are consistently strong, though the weight of angst accumulates with the reading of too many stories in one sitting.
An important collection for older teens. (Anthology. 15-18)