As they did in Pick Up Game (my review here), the editors asked one YA author to write the first story on the collection’s theme of initiation. Then eight other writers took strands from “Down Below” as they introduced teens whose lives were impacted by Kevin’s life and death, each tale one of a pivotal line crossed, a change that can’t be undone.
Like a kaleidoscope’s image changes when it’s passed from one viewer to the next, these nine interlocked stories show many different images of the 19-year-old New Yorker, darkness with glints of hope, questions of racial identity, parental affection, and the bonds of friendship.
Just published today – come over to Kevin’s neighborhood, meet his sister, his running buddies, the funeral home cosmetologist, the dead ends and new beginnings.
Book info: One Death, Nine Stories / edited by Marc Aronson & Charles R. Smith. Candlewick Press, 2014. [Marc Aronson's website] [Charles R. Smith Jr.'s website] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.
My book talk: Initiations in teen life – joyous, bitter, tragic – weave together this short story collection of the many firsts experienced after Kevin’s death by teens who knew him and some who’d never even met the 19 year old.
The anthology begins as Rita Garcia-Williams takes us to a teen’s first day of work at his uncle’s funeral home as drifting-along Morris suddenly realizes that he went to high school with the guy in that body bag.
Mick first meets Kevin as an altar boy in “Initiation” by Ellen Hopkins, but won’t play along to “The Next Next Level” of dangerous deeds in Torrey Maldanado’s story.
Kevin’s track teammate “Running Man” must outrace a bullet, tells Charles R. Smith, while Jackson starts football “Two-a-Days” down in Chris Barton’s Texas wondering about this Kevin guy whose death caused so many messages online.
“Just Once” Candy would have liked Kevin to give his affection without the bleak insults, chronicles A.S. King, while Kevin’s little sister reclaims his personal effects and finds herself saying “I Have a Gun” in Will Weaver’s tale.
Nadira’s “Making Up the Dead” (by Nora Raleigh Baskin) and making something of herself, while the college “Connections” described by Marina Budhos aren’t enough to keep Kevin in this world.
A strong collection of short stories about a life cut short and the choices made by those left behind. (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)