Editor Cart has gathered a collection of 13 short stories and three brief essays dealing with the often negative combination of teens and guns.
Most of the authors are well-known. After accidentally ending up with a handgun, Walter Dean Myers' somewhat troubled teen protagonist murders a drug dealer then goes into business for himself—turned criminal by the gun, a message repeated by Peter Johnson. Tim Wynne-Jones' teen uses a handgun to scare off a relentless bully, but another, mentally unstable teen gets the gun next—with evil intentions. Eric Shanower uses a series of ironic wordless cartoon panels to depict what Eros, god of love, does with increasingly serious weaponry. Francesca Lia Block has an unarmed elementary school teacher use only her sensitive language to disarm a potential school shooter. In Joyce Carol Oates’ overlong tale, a homely, jealous girl “accidentally” shoots her attractive sister's love interest with her stepfather's handgun. A much-needed humorous counterpoint by Ron Koertge portrays a pair of glib deer hiring a man to defend them against hunters. With few rather neutral exceptions, the message is solidly anti-gun, with many stories sharing a common theme: without an available gun, this crime wouldn't have happened. All of the tales are insightful, but the message is never especially subtle.
Well-done and thoughtful but relentless in pounding home a needed admonition. (Anthology. 12-18)