No Such Thing as the Real World: Stories About Growing Up and Getting a Life
I wanted to like this. I really did. I mean M.T. Anderson, An Na, K.L. Going, Beth Kephart, Chris Lynch and Jacqueline Woodson? That is some heavy talent in the teen fiction world. But these stories…most of them just fell completely flat for me.
That said, there were a few bright points. Chris Lynch’s story about a teen who learns some hard truths about his recently dead father when he takes over the family pawnshop made you wonder if it is better to know the truth or live with your perception of someone. Jacqueline Woodson’s story of a gay dancer questioning the meaning of family was interesting. For me, the strongest of the collection was “Survival” by K.L. Going, a story where a girl learns the hard way that you can’t always count on the people closest to you.
Overall, not really the best collection of stories. The coolest thing about the book is the contest that the editors are running. Teens between the ages of 14 and 19 are invited to submit a short story about a single, life changing event. The winner will have their story published in the paperback edition of the book. More info about that contest can be found on the HarperTeen website.