The lives of teens in crises of racism, a drunk driving accident, abortion, partner abuse, school failure and coping with the need to care for an aging relative, are depicted in these six captivating short stories. Three of the stories are told by young male narrators and three by female narrators. All six stories are captivating, with realistic and well-drawn characters.
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Grade level: 8-11
Lexile count: 770
IL: UG AR: 9.0 BL: 4.6
Grade 8-11 Reynolds's young people struggle against seemingly insurmountable odds but do eventually succeed in improving their lives. They're not too good to be true, though--they seem like real kids. The language here is a little raw, but the situations will be familiar to far too many teens: school failure, pregnancy and abortion, racism, a fatal car accident, an aging relative, violence and abuse by a lover. Reynolds sets this collection of six stories in Hamilton High, a fictional, urban, ethnically mixed secondary school somewhere in Southern California, but the stories are universal. Some characters have parents who can provide emotional guidance, but others are stumbling through life without support. YAs will look forward to the next installment in the series.
Midwest Book Review wrote:
Gr. 9-12. This latest addition to Reynolds' Hamilton High series presents six stories about teens in crisis. Teen pregnancy, the topic of the two previous books, is an issue in only one of the stories, in which Christina from Too Soon for Jeff discovers she is pregnant again and this time chooses abortion. Other crises revolve around an abusive partner, racism, failing at school, the death of a friend in an auto accident after a party at which alcohol is served, and coping with family obligations to care for an aging relative. All the young people are believable, likable, and appropriately thoughtful, given the situations they face. All the stories are interesting and well paced, and each has a slightly different style, which avoids repetition in theme and tone. Young adults will certainly identify with the characters and their problems, and it is particularly useful to have these issues addressed in short story form with alternate male and female narrators, thereby making it easy to recommend just one story to draw in reluctant readers. Once they get started, they probably won't stop at one.
Real-life crises of teens are themes of six stories in a collection which ranges from stories of abuse to dilemmas of single parenting. This is a hard-hitting collection which provides fine insights into how crises are resolved.