Fraustino's (Grass and Sky; Ash) provocative title and subject matter are enough to reel readers into this eclectic collection of original stories. Here 11 popular YA authors portray young people discovering, hiding, exposing or coping with disturbing truths. For example, in Fraustino's own contribution, "FRESh PAINt," a high school senior stumbles onto the hidden history of her great-grandmother while befriending an elderly patient at a local mental institution. Randy, the hero of Bruce Coville's "The Secret of Life, According to Aunt Gladys," learns about a closely guarded family secret when his never-before-mentioned Uncle George, a transvestite undergoing sex-change surgery, arrives for an extended visit. Other entries convey the burden of carrying a secret. Harboring guilt for abusing his little brother and his infant daughter, the protagonist of Chris Crutcher's "Popeye the Sailor," mistakenly thinks he can bury the past by devoting his future to aiding victimized children. Not all stories are realistic: both Richard Peck and M.E. Kerr serve up flavorful ghost stories. Offering both escapism and insight into the long-range effects of deception, these stories will satisfy a wide range of tastes. Ages 12-up. (June)
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Everyone has secrets, and in every secret lies the seed of a story. That is the premise underlying this collection of original stories for young adults. Contributors include Richard Peck, Bruce Coville, and Anna Grossnickle Hines. The stories cover a wide range of topics, from stage fright to honesty to guilt. They vary in their impact as well-some pack a punch that hits right at the gut; others have a lighter touch. An interesting, thought-provoking collection.
Children's Literature - Uma Krishnaswami
Family gossip, family secrets-every family has some hidden away. This collection of eleven short stories reveals a wide variety of secrets. Suicide, ghosts, plagiarism, abortion, even uncles who become aunts; in this volume it all hangs out on the line. Some of the top names in the YA field, including M. E. Kerr, Chris Crutcher, Bruce Coville, and Richard Peck, are among the contributors. In Stage Fright by Anna Grossnickle Hines, Angela fears throwing up in the middle of her valedictory speech. Calm, collected Mother assures her that timing is everything, and to Angela's surprise, Mother is throwing up after the speech as well. Rita Williams-Garcia's About Russell draws from her experience growing up with a gifted brother who became mentally ill. Passport by Laurie Halse Anderson introduces Jared, who alternates between the Land of Mom and the Kingdom of Dad. His mission is to maintain diplomatic relations between both until graduation-and then, well, there are many more countries to explore. Amusing, surprising, but most of all thought-provoking, these stories can serve as a springboard for class discussion as easily as they provide diversion on a lazy afternoon. VOYA Codes: 5Q 3P M J (Hard to imagine it being any better written, Will appeal with pushing, Middle School-defined as grades 6 to 8 and Junior High-defined as grades 7 to 9).
Gr 8 Up-An assortment of 11 stories that reveal the hidden secrets of a variety of families. From "Aunt Gladys," Bruce Coville's opening tale of an uncle preparing for a sex-change operation, to "Popeye the Sailor Man," Chris Crutcher's honest look at family violence, these selections will give teens a great deal to think about. There is plenty of talent here: Rita Williams-Garcia, Richard Peck, M.E. Kerr, and Graham Salisbury have written original stories for this collection. Teens will also be introduced to new writers such as Anna Grossnickle Hines of picture-book fame. The writing styles run from realistic, chatty dialogue to enlightened literature, with engaging characters in contemporary settings. The subjects vary as well, including mental illness, cheating, stage fright, ghosts, abortion, suicide, and divorce. With topics such as these, one might see this book as depressing; actually, it leaves readers hopeful. The stories touch on current issues, bravely and boldly providing fodder for discussion. YAs will appreciate the array of candor found between the covers of this book.-Angela J. Reynolds, West Slope Community Library, Portland, OR
Fraustino (Ash, 1995, etc.) presents 11 fresh, diverse pieces in a fierce collection of salacious family stories. The theme is sure to appeal to a wide audience, and these stories run from merely amusing to devastating. The weakest story comes first: In Bruce Coville's attention-grabber, Randy discovers not only that he has a long, lost uncle, but also that the uncle is a pre-op transsexual. The treatment is preachy and obvious, with dialogue and confrontations right out of daytime talk shows ("Don't pretend I'm something you have to hide. I'm not evil. I'm not! I just what to be what I am!"). Otherwise, the collection has more than its share of gems: Rita Williams-Garcia's affecting account of a brother's broken dreams and his societal withdrawal; Anna Grossnickle Hines's powerful tale of a girl who inadvertently learns of her mother's abortion; Laurie Halse Anderson's hilarious story of a boy who must reconcile his parents' post-high-school expectations of him with his own plans to travel; Fraustino's own atmospheric portrayal of a mental hospital where the teenager who visits to cheer up a patient discovers her own family's history of mental illness. The stories are engrossing; the writers stray from the obvious, making for many pleasant reading surprises. (Fiction. 13-15)