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When I was first asked to review a collection of short stories centering around YA true fiction stories and the teenage years of “our lives,” I shuddered and asked myself why — why were they writing these stories, why would I want to review an entire collection, and why would anyone in his right mind read them.
I now have the answer to all these questions: Because. These. Are. Really. Good. Stories! And written by really good writers. Not only that, the stories are edgy, honest, sad, funny, charming, and truly about the stage of life called teenage angst.
And I knew at the Introduction, I had not fallen victim to anything less than genius when they quote Margaret Atwood:
…When you’re young, you think everything you do is disposable. You move from now to now, to crumpling time up in your hands, tossing it away. … You think you can get rid of things, and people too — leave them behind. You don’t know about the habit they have, of coming back.
Life itself comes back at us and to us, and the memories make certain we can never run away from where we have been in the past.
We’ve all had it, been through it, suffered it, and settled large doses of it on our parents. Take the story, “Hat,” by Karen Eisenbrey. Eisenbrey writes of things we have all felt: turning ourselves invisible to avoid discomfort and disliking/hating our names. Remember not raising your hand even if you knew the answer to avoid being conspicuous? Opting out of playground games because of the silly rules that ended up with everybody running around and yelling? And this all happened in grade school. To see what Eisenbrey writes about in junior high and high school, you’ll have to read the book.
Eisenbrey writes with a comfortable, genuine style and made me feel as if I were right there with her as her childhood morphed into the teenage years. Her characters are somewhat quirky and that makes them more believable as I remembered my teens and the characters I grew up with.
This is just one example of the excellent writing found in this collection of short stories. What I took away that is most important about these stories is that nothing about those teenage years changes. We weren’t bad kids then, and today’s kids aren’t bad kids either (perhaps just bored). We didn’t intentionally hurt those around us, and today’s kids don’t mean to either (things just happen). We were quirky, and so are today’s teens quirky (so they have green hair and wear their jewelry more permanently than we did). We are in this collection, people!
Yes, we have problems among our teenagers today but we have to remember too that media plays to the worst in all of us, if they get the chance. But truly not much has changed, as shown by Heathers.
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Heathers is a good read for those who are lovers of short stories, no matter the subject. I believe it would be a good read for parents of teens to reflect back on what they were like when they were the ages of their children. Maybe that would be scary, but not too much so. I also think it would be an excellent teaching tool for those teachers charged with teaching our kids to write short stories.
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Meet the Editor(s):
Evangeline Jennings is an unreliable narrator. She tells lies for fun and profit. Mostly fun.
If Evangeline was a song – and she’d really like to be, she’d be “Public Image” by PiL or possibly “You Don’t Own Me” by Lesley Gore.
Born and raised in Liverpool, where they invented football and popular music, she now lives in Austin, Texas. The black sheep of her family, she comes from a long line of Californian beauty queens on her mother’s side. As she so often says, Northern Scum, Southern Belle.
Evangeline watches an awful lot of movies and TV. During the break she cooks popcorn and writes stories about revenge.
Note: Evangeline Jennings was joined by Lucy Middlemass and E.R. McTaggart as editors on this project.
(Bio and image via Amazon)
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DETAILS ABOUT THE BOOK | DISCLAIMER:
Paperback Publication Date: December 13, 2013
Genre: Anthology, Short Stories, YA, True Fiction
File Size: 340 KB
Printed: 239 pp
I received a copy of Heathers from one of the authors in exchange for a fair and honest review. The opinions and recommendations expressed are my own.