Family, honesty, and status emerge as themes in a collection of prolific author Kerr's short stories for teens.
A girl's ne'er-do-well adopted brother returns to her as a ghost. A Holocaust survivor understands her lesbian granddaughter better than the girl's mother fears. A school outcast visits an inmate at the town prison, pretending to be his son, and thinks he's lucked into a fortune. Most stories here were originally published in the 1990s, but despite occasional dated preoccupations, the subject matter still feels fresh and the telling, crisp. Each piece is tautly constructed and economical, the longest clocking in at 16 pages. A couple are gently speculative, like wry opener "Do You Want My Opinion?" in which kissing and sex are engaged in casually, but philosophical conversation is intimate and risqué. Most, however, draw out subtle, everyday conflicts and experiences. As it's been many years since Kerr has written actively for teens, more introductory material than the current plot-based teasers would have provided valuable context for readers new to her work. A biographical note at the end, however, complete with black-and-white photographs, gives readers background on Kerr's life, career, and multiple pseudonyms.
Expertly crafted, with enduring relevance. (Short stories. 12-18)