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SOUL SEARCHING by Lisa Rowe Fraustino Kirkus Star


Thirteen Stories About Faith and Belief

edited by Lisa Rowe Fraustino

Age Range: 14 & up

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 2002
ISBN: 0-689-83484-5
Publisher: Simon & Schuster

This collection of 13 short stories about faith will strike a chord in teens still trying to make sense of violence carried out in the name of Allah toward Americans, yet it isn’t meant to be a reaction to 9/11. Conceived years before that tragedy, it brings together both veteran and fresh voices of YA literature and a mélange of world religions and beliefs, including Native American and Amish. It’s also not about becoming saved or finding God or Buddha or any other higher being. Rather it shows the universal need to feel connected to family, friends, and humanity. In Minfong Ho’s “The See-Far Glasses,” for example, Ling, who never really understood her grandmother’s family altar, an outgrowth of Confucian tenets, learns to value this communication with her ancestors when her grandmother dies. These stories may also clarify religious principles as in Elsa Marston’s “The Olive Grove” in which Muslim Mujahhid, having seen his brother and best friend killed by Israelis, discovers his own jihad, to struggle peacefully for his family’s rights in the midst of chaos and war. Conversely, Dian Curtis Regan’s frightening “The Evil Eye,” based on an actual Venezuelan cult, shows an organized faith in the hands of evildoers. The final story, Fraustino’s “The Tin Man,” in which patients of varying ages, sizes, and religions wait their turn for a new heart transplant, sums up the main theme expressed throughout: although faith comes with more questions than answers, life is richer and more meaningful for those who ask those difficult questions and who find guiding principles in something beyond themselves. Readers will find humor, pain, joy, and wonder in these honest, powerful stories—and hopefully tolerance, compassion, and their own questions about the world around them. (Short stories. YA)