Edited by: Christine Perkins-Hazuka, Tom Hazuka and Mark Budman
I really liked this collection. In college I was introduced to the concept of "short-shorts" and I think they are a fantastic literary form! For the sake of this collection, submissons were limited to 1000 words, and had "an exclusive focus on childhood and adolescent situations." So of course I thought it was great.
With 65 stories, I obviously would rate some better than others. There are a few that deal with dark subjects, but I can only think of two off the top of my head. And they are short, and you can not finish one and still enjoy the rest of the book.
One of my favorites is "The Quinceanera Text," which of course deals with generational cultural differences and values. But it is sweet and the young girl realizes the importance of her gift. "Will you teach me some of Juanita's recipes? She smiled,her black eyes disappearinginto the wrinkles lining her face. "I teach you everything I know." Love.
Another one I really liked was "The Burden of Agatha" which deals with an all too familiar adolescent emotion of guilt. It is sad, but so relateable. "Chalk" has a similiar theme.
"Friday Night" is good. "Kaddish is a prayer that says how great and exalted God is. You're supposed to recite it when someone dies, even thought that's probably when you don't believe in God the most....you think: eithert God doesn't care or He can't do anything about it." I realize that adults are writing these adolescent thoughts, but they are powerful anyway.
"Dodgeball" totally captures what it feels like to think your actions can change what others think of you when really, it's still up to them. I loved "History," when the girl recalls her teacher telling them, "we believe things are true because we've seen pictures, but then he said, someone had to make those pictures. Someone had to decide which details were important enough to write down." Which reminded me of a conversation I had years and years ago with my uncle who is a photojournalist.
Reading all these well-written concise stories really made me want to teach. The conversations and writing assignments that could spring from them seems endless! I loved that I could read one or two in the 5 minutes I gave my kids to brush their teeth and use the bathroom.
They are inspiring and thought-provoking and for the most part very, very good.
Check it out!