It is surprisingly difficult to find short story collections for younger readers. I suspect, in part, I am simply not aware of them, but I sure do like it when I come across them.
M.E. Kerr is the award-winning author of some very progressive teen fiction, addressing topics such as homosexuality, racism, AIDS, absent parents, and so on. M.E. Kerr is a pseudonym for Marijane Meaker and she has written under other names such as Vin Packer, and Ann Aldrich (among others). She tells us this in a fascinating post-script, “A Personal History by M. E. Kerr.”
As with most collections or anthologies, the stories range from truly unforgettable to those that seem almost like filler. But even with those that I didn’t care for, I could see a spark and I could understand that there would be an audience for these stories… a youngster for whom the story might touch in a very significant way. “Great Expectations” and “I’ll See You When This War is Over” were two such stories.
“I Will Not think of Maine” was one of the haunting, unforgettable stories for me and I think it would resonate with many younger readers.
In fact, many of the early stories in the collection were winners, in my consideration. I was hooked on the collection right out of the gate with “Do You Want My Opinion” which has a fantasy bent to it and addresses issues relevant to our youth, but in a sort of back-handed way. In the world of the story, physical connection (touching, kissing, petting, sex) are the norm, but sharing an emotional connection – asking what someone thinks – is reserved for more intimate encounters. And here a young boy fantasizes about the special girl in class and dreams of asking her opinions (or better yet, her asking for his). It’s a brilliant twist and allows the young reader to make the connections to the modern norms.
“The Sweet Perfume of Goodbye” is also a beautiful tale and has a science fiction theme to it. Here a teen is doing research on another planet: the only smell on the planet is a unique, exotic odor released from a body when it is approaching death. What an incredible, haunting theme, and of course allows for plenty of reflection in the typical YA manner.
These two stories (“…Maine” and “…Goodbye”) open the collection and it is easy to see why they’ve been placed at the front as they really do entice and engage the reader and I was eager to read on. Of course, as I say, not all the stories were as captivating to me, but it’s a rare book of short fiction that would have all the stories appeal to a single reader. But I think that this has many above-average stories and it is a book worth reading, and definitely needs to be on the shelves in our school libraries.
Looking for a good book? Edge: Collected Stories by M.E. Kerr is an above average collection of YA fiction that engages readers and sometimes addresses difficult topics in unique ways. It is worth a read.
I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
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Edge: Collected Stories
author: M.E. Kerr
publisher: Open Road Media Teen and Tween
paperback, 172 pages