All That Remains: 3 Stories

All That Remains: 3 Stories

by Bruce Brooks
     
 

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In this trio of stories by two-time Newbery Honor author Bruce Brooks, cousins devise a fiendishly clever way to circumvent the law and give a loved one a proper burial; a boy begrudgingly tries to fulfill his dying uncle's last wishes; and a young girl must learn to unburden herself of the weight of grief.
Each of Brooks's characters is searching for a way to

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Overview

In this trio of stories by two-time Newbery Honor author Bruce Brooks, cousins devise a fiendishly clever way to circumvent the law and give a loved one a proper burial; a boy begrudgingly tries to fulfill his dying uncle's last wishes; and a young girl must learn to unburden herself of the weight of grief.
Each of Brooks's characters is searching for a way to deal with what's been left behind — all have grief to be shared, and personal discoveries to be made.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this trilogy of stories, teen protagonists contend with the "remains" of a recently deceased loved one. "Although all of the tales center around a death, they are surprisingly life-affirming as they reveal the many faces of grief," said PW. "The author's three distinct mood pieces join to create a unified requiem." Ages 12-up. (Dec.)
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Brooks (What Hearts; The Moves Make the Man) takes an original approach to a traditionally macabre motif in this trilogy of stories. In all three selections, teens contend with the "remains" of a recently deceased loved one. The author opens with a black comedy: Aunt Judith has died of AIDS (the result of a one-night stand with a man), and her lesbian lover plus cousins Marie and Jonny, the narrator, must decide what to do with her body. The state wants her buried in a "special graveyard for the `unclean.' " However, determined to grant Judith's request for cremation, the three take matters into their own hands and, simultaneously, trick the authorities. In the final selection, also told with a light touch, Isabel isn't quite ready to part with her late father. She carries his ashes in a backpack until she meets three young men on a golf course who help her find the right time and place to let go of the past. In the most serious of the three, and perhaps the most well crafted, Hank has an altogether different problem to solve. He struggles to fulfill the promise he made to his dying uncle to look after his nerdy cousin (who Hank suspects is gay). The boys seem to have nothing in common at first, but Hank's perspective changes as Bobby's hidden talents begin to emerge. Although all of the tales center around a death, they are surprisingly life-affirming as they reveal the many faces of grief. The author's three distinct mood pieces join to create a unified requiem. Ages 12-up. (May) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature
Here are three stories of death¾three ways that close friends and relatives deal with their loss and dispose of the remains. Judith is dying of AIDS and wants to be cremated but the city does not allow people with infectious diseases to be buried without a coffin. That doesn't stop Sue, her gay partner and a professional pottery maker. She fires up the kiln to make a fake sarcophagus, telling the police that Judith's body is inside and, meanwhile, burns her body. In "Teeing Up," Isabel carries her father's ashes in a backpack every time she plays golf. One day she joins three guys who question why she wears a pack when it obviously hinders her swing. They convince her to let go of what remains of her father. In the third story, Bobby feels he is a disappointment to his father because he is not much of an athlete. He forces himself to play hockey, but gets a concussion and must accept that it is okay to be an intellectual and a musician. Brooks uses many athletic terms and adds humor to an otherwise morbid topic. Boys can identify with the sports and appreciate the loss of a loved one without being maudlin. 2001, Atheneum Books for Young Readers, $16.00. Ages 11 to 15. Reviewer: Janet L. Rose
VOYA
Three novellas comprise this latest work by the Newbery Honor-winning author of The Moves Make the Man (Harper, 1984/VOYA February 1985) and What Hearts (HarperCollins, 1992/VOYA June 1993). Each story explores the aftermath of death. In the title story, two cousins become caught in a scheme to cremate their Aunt Judith's remains. State law forbids her cremation because Judith died of AIDS. Judith's partner, Sue, however, is a renowned potter. Why not use her kiln? Grief and the desire for revenge add depth to this surprisingly funny story. The second story, Playing the Creeps, is about another set of cousins, Hank and Bobby, who never have had much in common. Hank is a "guy's guy," whereas Bobby is gentle. When Bobby tries out for the hockey team, Hank is torn between a deathbed promise to Bobby's father to "help" Bobby, and his embarrassment over Bobby's effeminate nature. Hank comes to appreciate another side of Bobby, realizing that perhaps they are not so different after all. The final story, Teeing Up, takes place on a golf course. Three guys form a reluctant foursome with a girl who never removes her backpack. The backpack, the boys eventually discover, contains her father's cremated remains. As the group makes its way through eighteen holes of golf, the players tentatively come to trust each other so that the girl is finally able to release her very physical hold on her father. Many topics are well covered in these engaging stories—family bonds, homosexuality, physical disability, sports competition, and of course, death. This rare book that blends athletic energy with emotional insight should please all teens, both boys and girls, particularly those looking for shortstories. VOYA CODES: 4Q 4P J S (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Broad general YA appeal; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2001, Atheneum/S & S, 176p, Ages 13 to 18. Reviewer: Diane Masla SOURCE: VOYA, June 2001 (Vol. 24, No. 2)
KLIATT
These three long short stories—novellas, really—examine the effects of death on those left behind. In the title story, two cousins help their aunt, a potter who has died of AIDS, get the kind of burial she would have wanted. They assist her female lover in getting around state burial laws by cremating the aunt in a clay sarcophagus, and in the process learn about redneck prejudice and what people will do for love. In the second tale, "Playing the Creeps," a macho teenage boy named Hank promises his dying uncle that he'll help out his cousin Bobby, whom he has always viewed as a "dweeb," more interested in chess than in sports. When Bobby wants to learn to skateboard, Hank coaches him, condescendingly. When Bobby takes up ice hockey, he plays his heart out, to Hank's surprise, but in bravely preventing a goal Bobby is injured and his sports career is over. It's Bobby's impressive guitar playing that really wins Hank's respect at last, as he discovers that he has much to learn from someone he had always looked down on. The final tale, "Teeing Up," has three teenage boys joined by an unexpected fourth on the golf course, a girl who carries the ashes of her dead father in a knapsack on her back. Their teasing covers up real caring, and they finally convince her to say a last goodbye to him. Brooks, a Newbery Honor Award-winner for The Moves Make the Man and What Hearts, tackles difficult ground here in his multifaceted look at the repercussions of loss. In each case, self-knowledge is gained, and while the themes are rather grim the storytelling will pull readers in. The sports action of the second two stories may appeal to YAs, too. For thoughtful readers. KLIATT Codes:JS—Recommended for junior and senior high school students. 2001, Simon & Schuster/Atheneum, 170p, 00-056912, $16.00. Ages 13 to 18. Reviewer: Paula Rohrlick; May 2001 (Vol. 35 No. 3)
School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up-In three stories, Brooks forays into new and challenging territory with what he calls "a more dicey aspect of my humor" and with "more peculiar subjects and shadows." Death, and the reaction to it, is at the heart of each narrative. In the title story, two cousins react to the death of their ostracized aunt by plotting with her partner, a ceramic artist, to have her cremated in defiance of state AIDS statutes. Her body, to be collected by state health workers, is substituted with the remains of a deer encased in a clay sarcophagus, while she is cremated in the artist's kiln. In "Playing the Creeps," Hank's uncle, on his deathbed, asks the teen to look after his son, Bobby, and to direct him toward more manly interests. In the process, Hank, ironically, begins to appreciate Bobby's talents, and in the end they blend their musical interests into an inspiring partnership. The final story, "Teeing Up," focuses on a girl trying to hold on to the memory of her father. Carrying his cremated remains in her backpack, she joins some boys in a round of golf. Their interactions, antagonistic at first, develop into a friendship as they convince her to leave his ashes in the sand traps. All three stories feature witty and interesting dialogue. The characters are well drawn and the stories are powerful, albeit a bit macabre and disturbing. Brooks challenges readers with an assortment of themes including loyalty, acceptance, friendship, and defiance of stereotypes.-Tim Rausch, Crescent View Middle School, Sandy, UT Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780689834424
Publisher:
Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Publication date:
11/28/2002
Edition description:
First Edition
Pages:
176
Product dimensions:
5.66(w) x 6.54(h) x 0.49(d)
Age Range:
12 Years

Meet the Author

Bruce Brooks plays golf as long as there is no stroke or time limit to his round, plays pick-up ice hockey as long as no speed or backskating is required, and has never made a sarcophagus.

He has written over thirty books, fiction and nonfiction, and has won two Newbery Honor awards, for The Moves Make the Man and What Hearts. He has two sons, Alex and Spencer, and lives in in Brooklyn, New York.

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