Thirty-nine very short stories offer glimpses into the everyday lives of young people.
How much can a writer say in a five-page story? It turns out, everything; if the devil is in the details, so is the world. In “Stay True Hotel,” Jane observes couples walking hand in hand, people with tattoos, old people with canes, parents pushing prams, burgundy peonies in buckets, ginger ale with an orange slice—the “clicking and humming of the planet.” The best of the stories present “fringe observers” happy to be invisible, extracting themselves from the crowd to observe a world full of mysteries. The spirit of Thoreau suffuses some of the stories, and in “Thoreau Is My Partner,” Andy notices a cardboard coaster in his hotel room that quotes Thoreau: “Live each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influences of each.” As she does in her poetry, Nye achieves a perfect marriage of theme and structure in stories that reflect the moments, glimpses and epiphanies of growing up. Readers can dip in and out with ease, and writing teachers will find it a boon in the classroom.
Though the stories aren’t linked, there is an accumulation of experience and feeling, and by the end of this fine collection readers will sense what life is like—what life means—for these young people. (Short stories. 12 & up)