CM . . .
. Volume XXI Number 11. . . .November 14, 2014
Becoming Fierce: Teen Stories IRL.
Halifax, NS: Fierce Ink Press, 2014.
273 pp., trade pbk., $16.99.
Grades 12 and up / Ages 17 and up.
Review by Ann Ketcheson.
Reviewed from Advance Reading Copy.
Read the wonderful, heart-wrenching, devastating and sometimes laugh-out-loud funny stories in this anthology, written by Canadian authors of all backgrounds, about their own experiences growing up. The topics run the gamut, from bullying and self-image to sexuality and suicide. But while their circumstances vary, their stories prove that the trials and tribulations of growing up are universal. Read them knowing that each and every one of them came out the other end, and heck, look at them now – all successful published writers.
Read them and know you are not alone. (From the “Foreword” by Susin Nielsen.)
Becoming Fierce is an anthology of 10 stories which all have ‘surviving adolescence’ as their theme. That said, although the stories are all of excellent quality, they are very different in their plots and points of view. All are written in the first person, and all tell of personal struggles during tween and teen years.
Many of the stories have a dysfunctional family in the background and show teens attempting to cope with their problems in a variety of unproductive ways: drugs, alcohol and even suicide. However, none of the stories is particularly bleak or pessimistic. Even the darkest moments of adolescence are treated with tenderness and an understanding of the young person coping in the best way he or she knows at the time. Feelings that are so real and so very important as a teenager fade somewhat and soften over time. All of the authors agree that as dark and difficult as things may seem, there truly is a chance at eventual happiness if only one is patient enough to wait.
Authors in the anthology include Ben Boudreau (“Say It’s Okay”), Jo Treggiari (“Love You Like Suicide”), Chris Benjamin (“Cuisve”), Gerard Collins, (“The Long Last Year”), Alison DeLory (“Some of My Parts”), Lee D. Thompson (“Diary of a Fluky Kid”), Chad Pelley (“Before I Was Me”), Patti Larsen (“‘Prince Nameless’”), Cale Liom (“I Used to Think I’d Make a Good Boy”), and Jamie Fitzpatrick (“These Memories Can’t Wait”). Each takes a very different and very personal view of life as an adolescent, and readers will certainly find some stories more personally relevant than others, but all are strong and well-written.
Because of the mature themes, sexual content and strong language in some of the stories, the anthology seems directed toward older teens and adults who may see in the characters some of the questions and issues faced by their younger selves.
Susin Nielsen, editor of the anthology, has requested that 20% of all sales of the book be given to the charity Kids Help Phone.
Ann Ketcheson is a retired teacher-librarian and high school teacher of English and French who lives in Ottawa, ON.
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