Entertaining if imperfect, but perhaps a source of comfort for angry teens.

READ REVIEW

STRAYS

Sixteen-year-old Iris seems almost as much of a stray as Roman, the three-legged pit bull mix she’s tasked with training as community-service punishment for an outburst at school.

When her mother died two years ago, her distracted father responded by moving them up the coast to Santa Cruz. Ever since, Iris has had trouble with her seething anger. Normally, she dissipates the fury by pounding her closet wall with a hammer. But after her boyfriend dumps her and her English teacher grabs the notebook in which she keeps a list of people she wishes she could kill—including that teacher—she gets in a tussle resulting in her arrest. The dog-training sessions with a group of other struggling teens are challenging. Iris is afraid of dogs, and Roman is unpredictably aggressive. After he scares a man and his son, Roman is sent to the pound, in serious danger of being euthanized. Accepting responsibility for his predicament, letting a discerning teacher understand her situation, and allowing Oak, a caring young man in the dog-training group, to help her all move Iris toward a better place. Ironically, for a wall smasher, she has ample insight, which she often tells rather than showing in her narration. An oft-repeated metaphor equating her anger to rising water grows old, and some plot elements are way too convenient.

Entertaining if imperfect, but perhaps a source of comfort for angry teens. (Fiction. 11-16)

Pub Date: May 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-61822-037-0

Page Count: 232

Publisher: Ashland Creek Press

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2015

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A change of pace from the teeming swarms of fantasy and paranormal romance but too underpowered to achieve escape velocity.

FUTUREDAZE

AN ANTHOLOGY OF YA SCIENCE FICTION

A low-wattage collection of original stories and poems, as unmemorable as it is unappealingly titled.

The collection was inspired by a perceived paucity of short science fiction for teen readers, and its production costs were covered by a Kickstarter campaign. The editors gather a dozen poems and 21 stories from a stable of contributors who, after headliners Jack McDevitt and Nancy Holder, will be largely unknown even to widely read fans of the genre. The tales place their characters aboard spacecraft or space stations, on other worlds or in future dystopias, but only rarely do the writers capture a credibly adolescent voice or sensibility. Standouts in this department are the Heinlein-esque “The Stars Beneath Our Feet,” by Stephen D. Covey & Sandra McDonald, about a first date/joyride in space gone wrong, and Camille Alexa’s portrait of a teen traumatized by a cyberspace assault (“Over It”). Along with a few attempts to craft futuristic slang, only Lavie Tidhar’s fragmentary tale of Tel Aviv invaded by successive waves of aliens, doppelgangers, zombies and carnivorous plants (“The Myriad Dangers”) effectively lightens the overall earnest tone. Aside from fictional aliens and modified humans, occasional references to dark skin (“Out of the Silent Sea,” Dale Lucas) are the only signs of ethnic diversity. Most of the free-verse poetry makes only oblique, at best, references to science-fictional themes.

A change of pace from the teeming swarms of fantasy and paranormal romance but too underpowered to achieve escape velocity. (author bios) (Science fiction/short stories. 12-14)

Pub Date: Feb. 12, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-9847824-0-8

Page Count: 290

Publisher: Underwords

Review Posted Online: Dec. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2013

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What do flowers remember? The stories of the people who cared for them, of course, as Wiersbitzky’s sensitive novel...

WHAT FLOWERS REMEMBER

Thanks to her love of flowers, Delia has become a sort of apprentice to talented gardener Old Red and is devastated when he begins to show signs of encroaching dementia.

With all of the confidence of youth, she holds in her heart the belief that perhaps with her help—and that of all his loving neighbors—she can preserve his memories by collecting favorite stories about the beloved man. As she moves through the months, she records (in a rather mature first-person) both the tasks she completes in the garden as well as the stories she collects about him, also describing Red’s tragically inexorable decline. Delia’s surrounded by loving adults, and she shares her grief with best friend Mae and new love interest Tommy, as well as receiving support from members of her church; with these relationships, this warm effort neatly captures the strength of a close-knit community and the tight bonds that can form between the very old and the young. The 13-year-old’s often lyrical prose is attractive, even though it sometimes strays toward a more adult-sounding voice. Her frustration, fear and sense of loss will be readily recognizable to others who have experienced dementia in a loved one, and her story may provide some guidance on how to move down that rocky path toward acceptance and letting go.

What do flowers remember? The stories of the people who cared for them, of course, as Wiersbitzky’s sensitive novel compassionately conveys. (Fiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: May 3, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-60898-166-3

Page Count: 158

Publisher: Namelos

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2014

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