In his introduction, Gallo writes that authors were invited to write short stories about teenagers who do not fit in, the "weirdos, geeks, nerds, freaks, faggots, and worse" for this collection. These epithets represent teens ostracized by their peers at school and misunderstood by society in general. Gallo hopes that readers will gain "greater understanding and tolerance of others" by reading the stories, which are both engaging and thought provoking. In Nancy Werlin's Shortcut, readers learn that there is unity in strength, even for the outcasts. Jack Gantos's inspired writing offers a glimpse into a unique mind in Muzak for Prozac. Angela Johnson's Through a Window shows the heartrending consequences of a best friend's suicide. WWJD by Bill Weaver is a chilling account of what even a meek and mild pariah can do when pushed. Graham Salisbury's Mrs. Noonan and Alden R. Carter's Satyagraha provide two distinctive, incisive views of revenge. Perhaps the most affecting story is Guns for Geeks by Chris Crutcher, who tells a horrific account of a school shooting evocative of Columbine. The eleven stories in this anthology are all noteworthy, expertly written by prize-winning authors. Running the gamut from poignant to disturbing, they effectively portray the lives of disenfranchised teenagers. Any selection would serve as an excellent basis for discussion. Some strong language and violence suggest this book for students in grade seven and above. VOYA CODES: 4Q 4P M J S (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Broad general YA appeal; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2001, Dial, 240p, .Ages 12 to 18. Reviewer: Rachelle Bilz SOURCE: VOYA, April 2001 (Vol. 24, No.1)
Gr 7 Up-Kids who are geeks, unathletic, poor, emotionally fragile, loners, or unattractive by current standards form the heart of this collection of exceptional stories by well-known YA authors such as Joan Bauer, Chris Crutcher, and M. E. Kerr. Inspired by the events at Columbine High School, the authors pondered what sorts of heartbreak could cause teens to react so powerfully and violently, and how being isolated and shut out of high school groups could tear down the fragile walls of self-esteem, making vulnerable individuals snap and cause massive destruction. The result is a compilation of short stories from the point of view of those tormented, and those who view others being bullied and how their perceptions change as they examine the situations. While all the stories are excellent, Jack Gantos's "Muzak for Prozac" is an exceptional example of the fragile balance that one teen struggles to maintain through the use of mood-stabilizing chemicals. A must-buy for all libraries.-Susan Riley, Greenburgh Public Library, Elmsford, NY Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.