by Marilyn Reynolds

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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ISBN 978-1-929777-02-0


193 pages

Grade level: 8-11

Lexile count: 770

IL: UG  AR: 9.0  BL: 4.6

Reviews:School Library Journal wrote:

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.

Booklist 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.

Midwest Book Review wrote:

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. 

About the Author

Marilyn Reynolds is the author of eleven books of realistic teen fiction: Telling, Shut Up, No More Sad Goodbyes, If You Loved Me, Love Rules, Baby Help, But What About Me?, Beyond Dreams, Too Soon for Jeff Detour for Emmy, and Eddie's Choice all part of the popular and award-winning True-to-Life Series from Hamilton High. Marilyn is also the author of a book for educators, I Won’t Read and You Can’t Make Me: Reaching Reluctant Teen Readers, and a collection of essays, Over 70 and I Don’t Mean MPH. Her newest book is a memoir, 'Til Death or Dementia Do Us Part (2017) available from River Rock Books. She has a variety of published personal essays to her credit, and was nominated for an Emmy for the ABC Afterschool Special teleplay of Too Soon for Jeff.

Ms. Reynolds worked with reluctant learners and teens in crises at a southern California alternative high school for thirty years. She remains actively involved in education through author presentations to middle and high school students ranging from struggling readers to highly motivated writers who are interested in developing work for possible publication.

In the introduction to her book on techniques to help reluctant readers (I Won’t Read and You Can’t Make Me), Marilyn writes: “Over time I came to realize that the greatest gift I could give  to my students, many of whom would have no formal schooling after they left [high school], was the gift of a reading habit. Silent reading time became the backbone of my program.” She quotes a study in the the Los Angeles Times reporting that the single most significant factor in determining a person’s success in life is whether they read for pleasure.

She published her first novel, Telling, with the encouragement of Gloria Miklowitz, a well-known writer of young adult fiction. Telling deals with molestation, and students at her school became avid readers (and critics) of the manuscript. In the process, “students were developing a critical sense, using literary terms, analyzing character and motivation. And they were paying attention to the specifics of language use.”

Encouraged by the experience, she went on to write a realistic novel about teen pregnancy, Detour for Emmy, followed by nine more titles in the series. She believes that “the essence of sustained silent reading has to do with the increased understanding of one’s self and the world, of enabling the wounded to heal, the isolated to know they are not alone, the bigoted to see the humanity of others.”

Marilyn Reynolds is a passionate advocate of the benefits of writing in addition to reading. She promotes writing through participation in the 916 Ink program, and works with incarcerated youth in the Sacramento area. She engages with teens in a local continuation high school, and through visiting schools as an author, designing each visit to meet the individual needs of the school. She also presents staff development workshops for educators and is a frequent guest speaker for programs and organizations that serve teens, parents, teachers, and writers.

To request a visit, comment on Marilyn's books, or ask a question, visit Marilyn's web site, or send a message to Marilyn Reynolds below:

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