Kirkus Reviews QR Code
DIRTY LAUNDRY by Lisa Rowe Fraustino


Stories About Family Secrets

edited by Lisa Rowe Fraustino

Age Range: 13 - 15

Pub Date: June 1st, 1998
ISBN: 0-670-87911-8
Publisher: Viking

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)