No Such Thing as the Real World: Stories about Growing Up and Getting a Life

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Graduation from high school?

A senior thesis?

A betrayal by someone you love?

A loss of innocence?

The death of a parent?

Losing the family you always wished you had?

Facing a harsh reality?

What's the ...

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No Such Thing as the Real World: Stories about Growing Up and Getting a Life

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Graduation from high school?

A senior thesis?

A betrayal by someone you love?

A loss of innocence?

The death of a parent?

Losing the family you always wished you had?

Facing a harsh reality?

What's the line that separates childhood from the "real world"? And what happens when it's nothing you imagined it would be?

Do you want to be a published author?

The editors at HarperCollins invite you to submit a short story about a character who has to face the "real world" for the first time. The story must involve a single, life-changing event. First prize is the opportunity to be published alongside your favorite authors in the paperback edition of the No Such Thing as the Real World collection. All stories must be between 5,000 and 10,000 words long, and all contributing authors must be between fourteen and nineteen years old.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Norah Piehl
As editor Jill Santopolo notes, the six stories written for this title are about characters who "are thrown into the ‘real world,' find out it's not exactly what they imagined it would be, and struggle to find themselves." Written by some of contemporary young adult literature's most respected authors, the stories share, for the most part, an appropriately serious tone. In An Na's "Complication," a rape victim with a young son blatantly uses her attacker's brother to gain the freedom she longs for. M. T. Anderson's "The Projection" is a continuously shifting dialogue about two improvisational theater students assigned to construct a "situation." In K. L. Going's "Survival," a high school graduation speaker uses the last 20 minutes before commencement to replay her sister's ongoing betrayals and the real meaning of "Surviving High School" and beyond. Beth Kephart's affecting "The Longest Distance" is about a young woman struggling with moving on—and even finding laughter—following her best friend's suicide. "Arrangements" by Chris Lynch, probably the lightest toned selection in the bunch, illustrates how nothing makes a young man grow up as fast as the sudden death of his father. Finally, in Jacqueline Woodson's "The Company," a gay young man grows up quickly when he witnesses the dark underbelly of professional dance from the inside. Throughout, characters' realizations are complex and sobering, providing plenty of fodder for reader reflection. They may provide inspiration, as well, as the collection includes an invitation to aspiring teenaged writers to contribute their own selections about the theme for possible publication. Reviewer: Norah Piehl
VOYA - Melissa Moore
Six top-notch young adult authors write original stories for this varied, multilayered collection in which all share a moment of truth, when a teen crosses over from childhood into adulthood. In An Na's Complication, Fay, ditched by the young man who gets her pregnant and then dies, seeks to win and ultimately blackmail his brother for child support for her son. Contributing one of the strongest stories in the collection, Na uses characteristically beautiful language to explore the meaning of freedom. Beth Kephart's The Longest Distance is a thoughtful first-person narrative exploring life. Hannah's best friend Joelle commits suicide, and Hannah wrestles with guilt and healing. K. L. Going's Survival centers on high school graduation for Rachel, who loves Kenneth and battles in a deep rivalry with her older sister Sarah. Chris Lynch investigates a son's view of his father in the powerfully constructed Arrangements. Charlie's father has died, leaving Charlie pawnbroker business. In the process of running the shop, Charlie learns new truths about his father, chalenging his perspective on the world. M. T. Anderson's contribution, The Projection, might be the least accessible because of its complexity. Sam and Alec role-play what it might mean to be husband and wife in this futuristic tale that is presented as a two-person drama. Perhaps the weakest contribution is Jacqueline Woodson's story, The Company, which is told through the voice of a nineteen-year-old black, gay dancer and explores issues of race and family in a somewhat uneven manner. Overall, however, this remarkable collection will provide readers a compelling introduction to some of the most talented YA writers. Reviewer:Melissa Moore
VOYA - Domina Daughtrey
This collection offers six short, thought-provoking stories written by an impressive list of award-winning authors. Readers will glimpse into the real world of teens who are on the verge of or who have already entered into adulthood and whose lives are not quite what they expected them to be. In Complications, An Na tells the story of a teenage mother who yearns to provide a better life for her baby son and initiates a plan to do so. Two acting students engage in an impromptu situational dialogue that goes too far in M. T. Anderson's The Projection: A Two-Part Invention. In K. L. Going's Survival, a high school senior, after being betrayed repeatedly by her sister, painfully learns what survival really means. Another high school senior in Beth Kephart's The Longest Distance grapples with and tries to make sense of her best friend's unexpected suicide. In Arrangements, Chris Lynch tells the story of a young man who is thrust into running the family business when his father suddenly dies and learns new things about the man he thought he knew so well. And finally, a young gay man finds his way in the adult world as a dancer in Jacqueline Woodson's The Company. Teens will enjoy these well-written stories and find themselves pondering the situations long after the book is closed. Each story begs readers to think about perceptions of the real world—the way things should be—and the veracity of the real world in which we live—the way things really are. Teen readers are invited by the publisher to submit short stories with strong plots that show where childhood ends and adulthood begins and the way in which the real world is different from the expectation of the real world. Fromthese submissions, stories will be selected for publication in the paperback edition of this title. Reviewer: Domina Daughtrey
School Library Journal

Gr 9 Up

Six contemporary YA authors showcase their creative talents and good writing. M. T. Anderson's "The Projection" is a mind-blowing drama set in improvisational theater. The emotionally charged situation shifts to a complex illusion of what is real and what is an act. A staged relationship is played out and a mind game is replayed, unwound, and rewound in the present, past, and future. An Na's "Complication" is a disturbing story of a rape victim and single mother's scheme to target and extort money from her attacker's relative. Trying to redeem his brother's crime by showing tenderness and concern, the good brother strives toward resolution, but Fay has her own ideas and needs to be free. Beth Kephart's "The Longest Distance" addresses the deceased's best friend and teen suicide. The narrator is sad, confused, and desperate to answer the age-old question, "Why?" Other contributors include K. L. Going, Chris Lynch, and Jacqueline Woodson. This unique collection will challenge students' intellect and have them questioning their own decision-making skills. A fine balance is straddled between sophisticated prose and authentic teen voices, uninhibited and peppered with profanity.-Alison Follos, North Country School, Lake Placid, NY

Kirkus Reviews
In her succinct introduction to this up-and-down story collection, editor Jill Santopolo mentions the "dotted line" that separates childhood from adulthood, a time when the young individual must begin to negotiate the world alone. It's a tough time, and frequently in these narratives the protagonist's assumptions are inaccurate or his or her choices are imperfect. Perhaps that's why the tone of these six stories, each penned by a well-regarded YA author and followed by a biographical note thereon, is largely serious, even grim. K.L. Going's "Survival," an account of an angsty high-school senior who struggles to come to terms with her older sister's never-ending yet still shocking betrayal, pulls off the difficult feat of ending on a note that's simultaneously resigned and triumphant. The most touching tale is Beth Kephart's "The Longest Distance," about a girl trying to cope after her best friend's suicide. In several of the stories, most notably An Na's "Complication," the protagonist must sort through myriad moral complexities-in other words, the stuff and substance of adulthood. (Short stories. 14 & up)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061470585
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 4/21/2009
  • Pages: 256
  • Age range: 14 - 17 Years
  • Lexile: 830L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 7.12 (h) x 0.89 (d)

Meet the Author

M. T. Anderson is the critically acclaimed author of many picture books and novels, including Feed, which was a National Book Award finalist, and The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing,, Traitor to the Nation, Volume 1: The Pox Party, which won a National Book Award and was a Michael L. Printz Honor Book.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 2 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 1, 2014

    Empty mansoin lot

    Three stories and ten bedrooms. Fantastic quality and it costs 800,000,000.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 20, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Reviewed by Tasha for

    This is a collection of stories all about the jump that one takes from being a child into the real world. While the line is thin, each has their own unique story about the crossing and these authors share the tales of six different individuals.

    One character deals with the loss of a parent, who was special to the entire community, and how to uphold his business, which so many people relied on. Another has to write her senior thesis, but it becomes more of a necessity than a requirement when her best friend commits suicide. There is a graduation speech to be given, just after seeing your crush make out with your sister. Then there is the monologue of two actors, who would normally never have crossed paths, who seem to be married until one forgets. Finally, the stories about growing up wouldn't be complete without a case of teen parenting.

    I am quite new to reading anthologies, but I have to say they are quite fun. You get a brief view into another's world, and while sometimes you wish there was more, more often then not it's just the right amount. All the stories in this particular anthology were okay, nothing spectacular, and I felt like they still needed some more work, especially since they were so short.

    Beth Kephart's story was by far the best. While all the stories dealt with a tough issue that really defines one's coming of age, Kephart made her story so much more believable and real. Her writing was absolutely superb and she dealt with the whole issue of suicide in such a way that didn't make it seem so horrible. She made the main character relatable in the fact that she took out her sadness in writing and didn't really want to think about what had happened. I definitely think that Kephart was able to fully capture the essence of a short story and leave a lingering thought in the reader's brain on how they would react to the situation.

    Overall, NO SUCH THING AS THE REAL WORLD twas decent and I recommend it to all of you looking for a good dose of reality. Appropriate for all teenagers and older readers, I think this is a good book to help you see the "real world."

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