A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Teens will likely find at least one character in here to relate to. Readers will find lots to discuss as they explore these different coming-of-age stories, and may be inspired to read other works from these popular contemporary authors.
These coming-of-age stories are about "fighting through to find one's place," as author Lois Lowry notes in her forward.
Positive Role Models
It's easy to relate to these teens and be on their side as they face some really hard challenges -- and learn important lessons about what real love is all about, or even how to get over a heartache.
Violence & Scariness
A girl is disfigured after a terrorist bombing.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A boy keeps asking a girl to "touch it." References to "dykes," tongue-kissing, bras, an unbuttoned blouse while kissing, sex appeal, parents having sex, PMS and periods, "boobs" and "boob jobs." A gay teen comes out to his family.
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Products & Purchases
Snack food, soft-drink, and chain-store brands.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
References to alcohol, "getting high," teen drinking; an adult smokes a pipe.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that, while there's nothing graphic, there are lots of sexual references, including a homosexual teen, French-kissing, and a boy who keeps asking a girl to "touch it." These coming-of-age stories are about "fighting through to find one's place," as author Lois Lowry notes in her forward; readers will relate to these teens and be on their side as they face some really hard challenges, including disfigurement, coming out, and a dissolving family.
Is It Any Good?
None of these stories is really terrible, but none will knock your socks off -- which, given the pedigree of the writers, is surprising. This collection was first published in the U.K., and most of the authors are British. Lois Lowry contributes an introduction that attempts to draw a common theme from these disparate stories, and, disappointingly, she includes only an excerpt from one of her novels rather than a new story. Many of the authors are first-rate -- Meg Cabot, Anne Fine, Melvin Burgess, Meg Rosoff, among others -- but the stories are just OK.
Meg Cabot comes closest with a lighthearted take on an image-obsessed girl falling for a geek. Most of the rest are deadly serious, and sometimes preachy. These stories are reasonably enjoyable and pass the time pleasantly, for the most part. But these authors can do, and have done, better.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.