13

THIRTEEN STORIES THAT CAPTURE THE AGONY AND ECSTASY OF BEING THIRTEEN

Just as 13 is an age with agonies and ecstasies, this collection ranges from the trivial to the powerful. The stories cover bar mitzvahs and brand names, emerging sexuality and death. Conflicts between growing desire for popularity and emerging moral and social consciousness dominate the collection. Howe’s own “Jeremy Goldblatt Is So Not Moses” is a hilarious and moving tale of homelessness and social conventions. Conformity conflicts with eco-awareness in Todd Strasser’s funny “Squid Girl.” Stephen Roos’s poignant and powerful “Picky Eater” explores the darker side of fitting in. Ann M. Martin and Laura Godwin provide the weakest contribution, a trite paean to adolescence. Each contribution closes with a painfully awkward photograph of the author at 13, a wonderful reminder that the authors, too, shared the pain. Focus on change and growth gives strength to this offering. (Fiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-689-82863-2

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2003

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HUGE

A clichéd, moralistic tale of lessons learned at fat camp. Two girls spar and then bond as summer roommates. Perky April has “saved all year… all of [her] birthday money. Christmas. Everything” to pay for Wellness Canyon because she wants to be thin and popular. (How birthday and Christmas gifts could possibly total “seven grand” for a girl with a single mother on disability is distractingly inexplicable.) Wil, in contrast, has rich parents who own a sleek gym chain; her fatness is their shame, so they force her to go. Both April and Wil lose weight over the summer, while they obnoxiously insult each other, become friends, kiss the same boy, plot revenge on him, fight more and make up. Paley unequivocally touts weight loss and repeatedly uses words like “waddled” about her fat characters. She also displays ignorance of physiology, equating fitness unquestionably with thinness. Appalling and simplistic. (Fiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: May 22, 2007

ISBN: 978-1-4169-3517-9

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2007

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NOT AS CRAZY AS I SEEM

A 15-year-old boy with OCD struggles for mental health. Obsessed with cleanliness, germs, order, and the number four, Devon Brown feels compelled to wash his hands frequently, line up his books perfectly, and eat four of everything. Hoping to give Devon a fresh start (again), his concerned parents move, hire a new therapist, and enroll Devon in private school. The story, which never develops the dramatic urgency of Harrar’s Parents Wanted, gathers steam when one of Devon’s new acquaintances talks him into going to the school after-hours, then defaces the property with spray paint. Devon, who accompanied the boy because he felt the need to straighten a crooked poster in the biology room, is seen at the school, accused of the crime, and suspended. The reader is supposed to see a connection between Devon’s obsessions and the trouble he gets into, but the correlation is weak, and despite the intriguing topic, the protagonist never becomes more than a sum of his neuroses. (Fiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: April 24, 2003

ISBN: 0-618-26365-9

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2003

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