DIRTY LAUNDRY

STORIES ABOUT FAMILY SECRETS

Fraustino (Ash, 1995, etc.) presents 11 fresh, diverse pieces in a fierce collection of salacious family stories. The theme is sure to appeal to a wide audience, and these stories run from merely amusing to devastating. The weakest story comes first: In Bruce Coville’s attention-grabber, Randy discovers not only that he has a long, lost uncle, but also that the uncle is a pre-op transsexual. The treatment is preachy and obvious, with dialogue and confrontations right out of daytime talk shows (“Don’t pretend I’m something you have to hide. I’m not evil. I’m not! I just what to be what I am!”). Otherwise, the collection has more than its share of gems: Rita Williams-Garcia’s affecting account of a brother’s broken dreams and his societal withdrawal; Anna Grossnickle Hines’s powerful tale of a girl who inadvertently learns of her mother’s abortion; Laurie Halse Anderson’s hilarious story of a boy who must reconcile his parents’ post-high-school expectations of him with his own plans to travel; Fraustino’s own atmospheric portrayal of a mental hospital where the teenager who visits to cheer up a patient discovers her own family’s history of mental illness. The stories are engrossing; the writers stray from the obvious, making for many pleasant reading surprises. (Fiction. 13-15)

Pub Date: June 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-87911-8

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1998

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GUTS

THE TRUE STORIES BEHIND HATCHET AND THE BRIAN BOOKS

Paulsen recalls personal experiences that he incorporated into Hatchet (1987) and its three sequels, from savage attacks by moose and mosquitoes to watching helplessly as a heart-attack victim dies. As usual, his real adventures are every bit as vivid and hair-raising as those in his fiction, and he relates them with relish—discoursing on “The Fine Art of Wilderness Nutrition,” for instance: “Something that you would never consider eating, something completely repulsive and ugly and disgusting, something so gross it would make you vomit just looking at it, becomes absolutely delicious if you’re starving.” Specific examples follow, to prove that he knows whereof he writes. The author adds incidents from his Iditarod races, describes how he made, then learned to hunt with, bow and arrow, then closes with methods of cooking outdoors sans pots or pans. It’s a patchwork, but an entertaining one, and as likely to win him new fans as to answer questions from his old ones. (Autobiography. 10-13)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-385-32650-5

Page Count: 150

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2000

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Though it’s a bit of a slog, readers of Book 1 will find it worth the time for its unexpected conclusion

THE SHADOW'S CURSE

A lost prince and his ladylove must defeat the tyrant rampaging over the steppes with an army of enslaved spirits in this sequel to The Oathbreaker’s Shadow (2015).

Raim is haunted by the spirit of his best friend, Khareh—a spirit that appeared when Raim accidentally broke an oath made by another, leaving him magically marked and exiled from his nomadic tribe as an oathbreaker. Khareh yet lives, but with the best part of himself lost in the spirit, his ambition has become megalomania. Not content to be khan of his tribe alone, Khareh aims to join all the northern nomads into one massive khanate. Raim seeks control over his spirit but also yearns to rescue Wadi, the dark-skinned desert girl to whom he's given his heart. Wadi is Khareh's captive, and she is more than capable of freeing herself from the cruel young khan; nevertheless she must stay a captive. It's her destiny to make a king of Raim, she learns from a blind seer in one of the stalest tropes of superpowered disability. Raim, Khareh, and Wadi travel all over the steppes of Darhan, giving a solid glimpse of this fantasy world roughly based on the lives of Mongolian nomads. A dense narrative of tiny chapters with shifting points of view leaves little time to become invested in each character's journey.

Though it’s a bit of a slog, readers of Book 1 will find it worth the time for its unexpected conclusion . (Fantasy. 13-15)

Pub Date: Feb. 8, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7387-4512-1

Page Count: 456

Publisher: Flux

Review Posted Online: Nov. 17, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2015

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