Owning It: Stories about Teens with Disabilities

Overview

From an acclaimed anthologist, a stellar collection of stories about teens with disabilities — and the tenacity, spirit, and humor that drive them.

Chris Crutcher takes us on a wild ride through the mind of a teen with ADD, while David Lubar’s protagonist gets a sobering lesson from his friends. In Gail Giles’s tale, Brad can’t help barking at his classmates but finds understanding when he gives a comical (and informative) presentation to his entire school. And Robert Lipsyte ...

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Overview

From an acclaimed anthologist, a stellar collection of stories about teens with disabilities — and the tenacity, spirit, and humor that drive them.

Chris Crutcher takes us on a wild ride through the mind of a teen with ADD, while David Lubar’s protagonist gets a sobering lesson from his friends. In Gail Giles’s tale, Brad can’t help barking at his classmates but finds understanding when he gives a comical (and informative) presentation to his entire school. And Robert Lipsyte introduces us to an elite task force whose number-one enemy is cancer. Whether their disabilities are physical or psychological, the subjects of these powerful short stories — written by ten outstanding young adult authors — meet every day with wit, intelligence, and courage.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Everything is under control as far as Brad is concerned.
Is he the only one who doesn't see there's a problem?

Here's to Good Friends
DAVID LUBAR

"Spit out that gum!"

I hate it when teachers shout. What's his problem? I looked up at Mr. Forester, who was huffing down the aisle toward my desk. First period on Monday, you'd think he'd have the decency to let us ease back into the grind. School's enough of a drag without having to plunge right into quadratic equations, the Great Depression, or the use and misuse of the gerund.

"Ratner, spit out that gum right now. I asked you three times. Are you deaf ?"

"Me?"

Mr. Forester pressed right up against my desk. "Is there another Brad Ratner in the room?"

"If there is, I hope he did my homework."

I heard some choked-back laughs from around the room. I glanced over at Jordie and grinned. Forester bent forward and got right in my face. "Now."

I pushed my chair away from the desk and walked over to the garbage can. Patoooee. Thunk. I love the sound gum makes when you spit it into a can. I wonder if there's some kind of career where I could do that. Wouldn't that be awesome? I could see myself like one of those street musician guys with the wild hair and shaggy beard. Playing the gum can. Yeah. I could set up different cans, with different sounds. Pass the hat. Make enough money to buy more gum. Maybe get famous and be in Rolling Stone. Brad Ratner, world's best rhythm spitter. Of course, a beard might be a bad idea, with all that gum.

Crap. Forester was shouting again. I headed back to my seat. Almost tripped, but I caught myself. Maybe I should tie my laces. Not cool, but definitely less trippy.

Forester glared at me and shook his head. "Every day, Ratner. It's getting old."

Yeah, so are you.

At least he left me alone for the rest of the period. I met up with Jordie in the hall when the bell rang.

"You better watch it," he said. "Forester is going to give you detention."

"Nah. He can't. I've got detention deficit disorder."

Damn. That was pretty funny. I let out a laugh as I realized what I'd said. "Yeah, that's it. I've got DDD. Got a note from my doctor. I even have a prescription for attituderol. They gotta treat me special. It's the law."

"Dickhead." Jordie gave me a push. And then he forgot all about everything in the world except his glands because his main squeeze, Carla, was coming down the hall. Carla. Yum. She was fine. Hot. Smart. Fun. She had this body that, if she was made out of cake, you'd eat the whole thing because it would be impossible to stop after a couple bites. She reached us and gave Jordie the sort of hug that's illegal in seventeen states. Lucky man. I think they're going to be together for life. That's cool. I was happy for them. After they untangled, she looked over at me and said, "Oh. Hi, Brad." No smile. That's the thing. She was hot. But sometimes, for no reason at all, she was cold. Maybe I should call her Faucet. Wasn't there a Sarah Faucet or something like that? I could call her Shallow Faucet. But that would piss Jordie off. And I wouldn't do that to my best pal. I mean, even though we've been hanging since tenth grade, he could have dumped me when they started going out. But we still did lots of stuff together.

"Brad."

"Huh?"

"Did you hear what Carla said?"

"No. Sorry. I was thinking about something."

"She said they added seats for the sold-out show. The extra tickets go on sale tomorrow night."

"For Razor Heart Nine?" That was awesome. They'd just released a new CD. I could play the first part of a couple of their songs on my guitar.
Jordie frowned. "What are you talking about? We saw them last month. Are you spacing out on me?"

"Just kidding." I turned to Carla. "Sounds great."

"We gotta go," she said. She grabbed Jordie's hand and dragged him down the hall toward their second period class.

"DeepAndDark!" I shouted after them as I remembered which band was coming to the arena.

I headed off to English class. Tripped again. Gave up and tied my laces. Must have lost my homework when I dropped my notebook. Ms. Tilden wasn't happy about that. I could see a lecture bubbling away in her chest and rising up toward her mouth. But I gave her my charming smile and she gave me some slack. People like you if you smile.

I survived English and headed for algebra II. It would be easier if I could get to my locker after third period. That would be perfect. But my third- and fourth-period classes are in the north wing on the third floor, and my locker is way across the building on the first floor. By the end of fourth period, each minute seems to take an hour to tick off. I can taste the bell.

Ring. Sprung. I pushed through the crowd, surviving the steps because the mob is so packed there's no place to fall. If they played music, it would be a mosh pit.

Thirty-six, eighteen, four. The lock didn't open. Damn. I needed to get in there. I yanked harder and hurt my hand. Damn lock's broke or something. No. Wait. Thirty-six . . .? That was my middle school number. Four years ago. Why would I even remember it? Stupid mistake. I've had the same lock since way back in freshman year. Twelve, twenty-one, fourteen.

Victory. I got the locker open, grabbed the half-empty Coke bottle from behind my stack of books, checked to make sure nobody was watching, and chugged most of it down. Jesus, that's better.

Back in balance.

VOYA - Angelica Delgado
A boy tries ditching his inhaler for a day in an attempt to woo the girl of his dreams. A blind adolescent and his overweight classmate form an unlikely duo to battle a school bully. Young patients in a cancer ward fight their disease unconventionally. A teenage girl recovering from a head injury does her best to cope with the jungle that is her high school. These stories are among the ten collected in a new fiction anthology focusing on teens with disabilities. With many short story collections, the reader must take the good, the bad, and the even worse. Unfortunately this anthology contains approximately equal portions of wheat and chaff. Some entries bear a striking similarity to melodramatic after-school specials, whereas others are original, expertly constructed tales. Still despite the subject matter, the tone of the stories is light which help make them quick, breezy reads, and this collection includes subject material that is usually underrepresented in most libraries. Particular accolades go to the two selections written by Alex Flinn and Robert Lipsyte that magnificently blend pathos and dark humor. Among other contributors are David Lubar, Chris Crutcher, Rene Saldana Jr., and Gail Giles. Purchase this anthology only for collections where short stories are in high demand or for those needing material in the special genre of coping with disabilities as a young adult. Reviewer: Angelica Delgado
Lisa A. Hazlett
A teen creates a school video explaining his Tourette's syndrome; a girl finally finds friends who accept her immobilizing migraines, and another teen's friends scare him sober. These short stories by Gail Giles, Julie Anne Peters, and David Lubar, respectively, are in this ten-story anthology featuring teens with disabilities. Various authors, topics and plotlines appear, but all stories portray ordinary teens living with conditions and end positively. Quality is somewhat uneven; although Alex Flinn's brain-injured former honor student and Robert Lipsyte's militaristic cancer ward expertly blend tragedy and comedy, a few resemble public-service announcements. Bonuses include revisiting Olivia in Ron Koertge's "Good Hands," originally in "Calle de Muerte," from Gallo's 2006 What Are You Afraid Of? Stories about Phobias, and finding Eddie Proffit from Chris Crutcher's The Sledding Hill in "Under Control." Author notes include each writer's connection to the disability portrayed, plus facts and contact information about each condition. Reviewer: Lisa A. Hazlett
Children's Literature
AGERANGE: Ages 12 up.

Alcoholism, Tourette's, brain damage, obesity, ADHD, asthma, blindness, migraines, wheelchairs, cancer. They are all here, in short stories by a diverse group of award-winning authors of young adult fiction. Readers are pulled into the daily challenges confronted by teens with disabilities, from the cheerleader whose brain was damaged in a car accident and now cannot remember the name of the person sitting next to her to the boy who is way too cool to use his inhaler to ward off an asthma attack. Readers may identify with the challenged teens or learn important lessons from the side characters, including Jordie and Carla who force their friend Brad to confront his alcoholism and Hadley, the beautiful popular one, who leads blind Tyler to a vacant lot and leaves him there. The stories are poignant, often familiar and sometimes dramatic--especially when several boys create their own fantasy world as a survival tactic in a cancer ward. Occasional stereotypical references to people with disabilities are unfortunate and unnecessary (e.g., "retard," "destined to be a greeter at Walmart"), but overall these stories shine a much-needed light on the difficulties some teens face every single day. The stories are compelling and informative for teen readers with or without disabilities. Reviewer: Karen Leggett

School Library Journal

Gr 7-10- Stories about teens with disabilities are not often a top choice for YA leisure reading. Nonetheless, when told well, they cut to the bone and open a window to empathy. This anthology by a stellar cast of YA authors introduces teens with a mix of physical and psychological problems from asthma to Tourette's syndrome. The young people's challenges are broad and diverse, and the settings range from high school to hospital environments. Robert Lipsyte's story about cancer is a creative and compassionate survival tale. Recuperating in the hospital, several boys share one commonality, the unnerving wait for their prognoses. Chris Crutcher revisits Eddie, the main character from The Sledding Hill (HarperCollins, 2005). Eddie's racing and obsessive thoughts-and nonstop talk-replicate a frustrating day in a very intelligent boy's ADD zone. David Lubar's "Here's to Good Friends" is about a teen alcoholic, the surviving drunk driver in an accident that kills two friends. Fortunately, it's a setup. Jolted to face his denial, Brad has the fantasy wake-up call of a second chance. Some stories give hope, some strive to smooth out an unfortunate twist of fate, yet too many press toward real situations that feel too simple. Overall, a useful but not outstanding collection.-Alison Follos, North Country School, Lake Placid, NY

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780763632557
  • Publisher: Candlewick Press
  • Publication date: 2/26/2008
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 1,400,753
  • Age range: 12 - 17 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.67 (w) x 8.57 (h) x 0.99 (d)

Meet the Author

Donald R. Gallo is the nation’s foremost anthologist of short stories for young people and a recipient of the ALAN Award for outstanding contributions to young adult literature. Among his award-winning anthologies are WHAT ARE YOU AFRAID OF?, DESTINATION UNEXPECTED, and FIRST CROSSING. He lives in Solon, Ohio.

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Read an Excerpt

Everything is under control as far as Brad is concerned.
Is he the only one who doesn't see there's a problem?

Here's to Good Friends
DAVID LUBAR

"Spit out that gum!"

I hate it when teachers shout. What's his problem? I looked up at Mr. Forester, who was huffing down the aisle toward my desk. First period on Monday, you'd think he'd have the decency to let us ease back into the grind. School's enough of a drag without having to plunge right into quadratic equations, the Great Depression, or the use and misuse of the gerund.

"Ratner, spit out that gum right now. I asked you three times. Are you deaf ?"

"Me?"

Mr. Forester pressed right up against my desk. "Is there another Brad Ratner in the room?"

"If there is, I hope he did my homework."

I heard some choked-back laughs from around the room. I glanced over at Jordie and grinned. Forester bent forward and got right in my face. "Now."

I pushed my chair away from the desk and walked over to the garbage can. Patoooee. Thunk. I love the sound gum makes when you spit it into a can. I wonder if there's some kind of career where I could do that. Wouldn't that be awesome? I could see myself like one of those street musician guys with the wild hair and shaggy beard. Playing the gum can. Yeah. I could set up different cans, with different sounds. Pass the hat. Make enough money to buy more gum. Maybe get famous and be in Rolling Stone. Brad Ratner, world's best rhythm spitter. Of course, a beard might be a bad idea, with all that gum.

Crap. Forester was shouting again. I headed back to my seat. Almost tripped, but I caught myself. Maybe I should tie my laces. Not cool, but definitely less trippy.

Forester glared at me and shook his head. "Every day, Ratner. It's getting old."

Yeah, so are you.

At least he left me alone for the rest of the period. I met up with Jordie in the hall when the bell rang.

"You better watch it," he said. "Forester is going to give you detention."

"Nah. He can't. I've got detention deficit disorder."

Damn. That was pretty funny. I let out a laugh as I realized what I'd said. "Yeah, that's it. I've got DDD. Got a note from my doctor. I even have a prescription for attituderol. They gotta treat me special. It's the law."

"Dickhead." Jordie gave me a push. And then he forgot all about everything in the world except his glands because his main squeeze, Carla, was coming down the hall. Carla. Yum. She was fine. Hot. Smart. Fun. She had this body that, if she was made out of cake, you'd eat the whole thing because it would be impossible to stop after a couple bites. She reached us and gave Jordie the sort of hug that's illegal in seventeen states. Lucky man. I think they're going to be together for life. That's cool. I was happy for them. After they untangled, she looked over at me and said, "Oh. Hi, Brad." No smile. That's the thing. She was hot. But sometimes, for no reason at all, she was cold. Maybe I should call her Faucet. Wasn't there a Sarah Faucet or something like that? I could call her Shallow Faucet. But that would piss Jordie off. And I wouldn't do that to my best pal. I mean, even though we've been hanging since tenth grade, he could have dumped me when they started going out. But we still did lots of stuff together.

"Brad."

"Huh?"

"Did you hear what Carla said?"

"No. Sorry. I was thinking about something."

"She said they added seats for the sold-out show. The extra tickets go on sale tomorrow night."

"For Razor Heart Nine?" That was awesome. They'd just released a new CD. I could play the first part of a couple of their songs on my guitar. Jordie frowned. "What are you talking about? We saw them last month. Are you spacing out on me?"

"Just kidding." I turned to Carla. "Sounds great."

"We gotta go," she said. She grabbed Jordie's hand and dragged him down the hall toward their second period class.

"DeepAndDark!" I shouted after them as I remembered which band was coming to the arena.

I headed off to English class. Tripped again. Gave up and tied my laces. Must have lost my homework when I dropped my notebook. Ms. Tilden wasn't happy about that. I could see a lecture bubbling away in her chest and rising up toward her mouth. But I gave her my charming smile and she gave me some slack. People like you if you smile.

I survived English and headed for algebra II. It would be easier if I could get to my locker after third period. That would be perfect. But my third- and fourth-period classes are in the north wing on the third floor, and my locker is way across the building on the first floor. By the end of fourth period, each minute seems to take an hour to tick off. I can taste the bell.

Ring. Sprung. I pushed through the crowd, surviving the steps because the mob is so packed there's no place to fall. If they played music, it would be a mosh pit.

Thirty-six, eighteen, four. The lock didn't open. Damn. I needed to get in there. I yanked harder and hurt my hand. Damn lock's broke or something. No. Wait. Thirty-six . . .? That was my middle school number. Four years ago. Why would I even remember it? Stupid mistake. I've had the same lock since way back in freshman year. Twelve, twenty-one, fourteen.

Victory. I got the locker open, grabbed the half-empty Coke bottle from behind my stack of books, checked to make sure nobody was watching, and chugged most of it down. Jesus, that's better.

Back in balance.

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