COLOR OF ABSENCE by James Howe

COLOR OF ABSENCE

Twelve Stories About Loss and Hope
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Age Range: 12 & up
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KIRKUS REVIEW

Some of today’s most celebrated YA authors, including Avi, Walter Dean Myers, Jacqueline Woodson (writing with Chris Lynch), Annette Curtis Klause, Norma Fox Mazer, Virginia Euwer Wolff, and Howe himself, are represented in this generally fine though uneven anthology. Loss appears in various guises here, including deaths of parents, a grandparent, pets; loss of a career and friends; disappearance of a beloved sibling; the theft of a worthy-of-first-prize bicycle; and the possible end of a marriage. What all these stories share in common is their hopeful, life-affirming message that even painful losses help one to accept, change, and grow. Most memorable is Klause’s “Summer of Love.” Set in San Francisco in the summer of 1967, the story revisits Simon, vampire “hero” of this author’s acclaimed novel The Silver Kiss (1991), and imagines him as the owner, for a short time, of a cat. Imagine his—and readers’—astonishment when he discovers his capacity to love and to experience crushing pain upon the animal’s death. Most quirky but as moving is Wolff’s “Chair: A Story for Voices,” in which the slow deterioration of an old man’s mind is achingly played out in a spare dialogue in three “acts” between Grandpa and Buddy, his devoted grandson. Surprisingly out of kilter, though, is Myers’s slow-moving contribution about an adult baseball player’s decision to quit the game and work through his marital problems. Teen readers will be less likely to relate to this one than to any of the others. Overall, this anthology should make readers think, feel, and nod in recognition. Here’s good news for teachers, too: the stories serve as fine springboards for introspective student-writing and classroom discussion. (Fiction. 12+)

Pub Date: July 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-689-82862-4
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Atheneum
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 2001




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