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Rearranging, and Other Stories

by David Gifaldi

Published by Jean Karl / Atheneum, 1998
148 pages
ISBN: 0-689-81750-9

Age 13 and older

In "Jared," a teenager whose face has been badly burned in a fire struggles with anxiety and doubt as he contemplates an in-person meeting with a girl he has come to know well on the telephone. A twelve-year-old boy involved in a joke that got out of hand, cruelly taunting a young man with a developmental disability, describes his own shame and the dignity of the young man's father who, with a simple gesture, offers him something beyond forgiveness in "Mr. Burrell." "The Driving Lesson" chronicles a teenage girl's pleasure and confusion as her relationship with her boyfriend becomes complicated by sexual exploration and her mother responds with an honest lesson in respect and hard-hitting truth. David Gifaldi's collection is comprised of stories at once subtle and striking. He writes about young adults for whom uncertainty, and sometimes pain, can be seen as not just part of the teenage condition but part of the human condition -- struggle and transcendence in ways both small and large. His protagonists are drawn from the inside out good kids who are distinctive, seen in situations that are individually unique, but all dealing with emotions and feelings that are universal: fear, self-doubt, anger, hope, resentment, shame, pleasure, confusion. These emotions are drawn with clarity, and the stories build to conclusions that reveal a shift, a change in how each protagonist views his or her life or occupies his or her world. While one story, "The Lords and Ladies of Coventry High," seems out of place with its over-the-top characterization of a Shakespeare-spouting teenage Romeo, the book as a whole is a series of finely crafted revelations gifts of the heart for young adult readers. CCBC categories: Fiction for Teenagers (MS; July 6)  © Cooperative Children's Book Center

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