I love short story collections. LOVE them. You don’t see too many for the YA market, which is too bad. Fortunately, there’s a wonderful new collection out right now. And it’s a collection with a fabulous twist, since, despite being written by multiple authors, it pretty much reads like a novel.
In ONE DEATH NINE STORIES, edited by Marc Aronson and Charles R. Smith, Jr., authors like Rita Williams-Garcia, Ellen Hopkins, A.S. King, Chris Barton, Nora Raleigh Baskin, and others answer a big what if: What if a teen’s death had a ripple effect in ways nobody could have predicted? The book opens with a story about an undertaker’s apprentice, bringing in the body of a boy named Kevin. It continues to explore Kevin’s death with each story, through the eyes of a different person. Some of these people were close to Kevin — his ex-girlfriend, a childhood friend. Others only knew him because he died, like the young cosmetologist working on him at the funeral home.
These stories, in an almost surprising way, tell both one story and nine. Each of the vignettes gives as much about the narrator as it does about Kevin. Simultaneously, each story is a piece of the puzzle that was Kevin. And which Kevin was the real Kevin? The troubled boyfriend? The charismatic leader? The loving brother? The wannabe gangster?
ONE DEATH, NINE STORIES is a beautiful collection, a fabulous story both as one and as nine. This will be a great book both for readers of literary fiction and fans of the above authors, as well as for young readers who might be reluctant to pick up a novel, due to the book’s short length and the unique format. Readers, find a copy for yourselves; English teachers, put this on your shelves for this fall!