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What You Wish For: Stories and Poems for Darfur (thoughts)

May 23, 2012
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From the publisher’s website:
A stellar collection from Newbery medalists and bestselling authors written to benefit Darfuri refugees
With contributions from some of the best talent writing for children today, What You Wish For is a compelling collection of affecting, inspiring, creepy, and oft-times funny short stories and poems all linked by the universal power of a wish – the abstract things we all wish for – home, family, safety and love.

I stumbled upon this anthology of short stories at the library and took one look at the list of authors and knew I had to read it. I don’t recall hearing about it previously, but Ann M. Martin and R.L. Stein in the same book? Two of my favourite YA authors from when I was a teen? Along with John Green and Meg Cabot? Two of my current favourite YA authors, now that I’m no longer a teen? I could not pass it up. Especially now that I’m embracing my new found love of short stories.

The theme of the anthology is Wishes, and each author handles it in his or her own unique way. What You Wish For contains everything from dystopian to historical with fantastical twists to contemporary. However, most of the stories seem to be written to a younger audience than most of the YA I usually read. And a couple of the stories definitely feel like Stories With A Message (ie. The first two of the anthology). But that’s not to say I didn’t like the anthology.

The story that stood out from the pack, for me, was “Nell” by Karen Hesse. I haven’t read anything else by Karen Hesse, but if her novels are anything like this story, I really need to change that. “Nell” was unique and haunting and weeks later I’m still thinking about it. Which is pretty much what I look for in a short story.

I was most looking forward to “Reasons”, the story by John Green. And the John Green story is very much a John Green Story. I mean, the description of it is “a boy loves an unattainable girl completely and honestly.”So, pretty much like all his other books. Which is to say, that if you are a fan of John Green, as I am, you will probably like it, as I did.

As for the other stories, they were enjoyable reads. The Ann M. Martin story, “The Lost Art of Letter Writing”, was a really cute one in letter format that could have been a lot longer. Cynthia Voigt contributed a retelling of Cinderella called “The Stepsister” which was fantastic. It was definitely a retelling of the original story, not the Disney version. And the story by R.L. Stein? It was a odd one, which I guess should be expected, but also served as a reminder that I probably wouldn’t enjoy his books as much as an adult as I did as a preteen.

All in all it was an anthology I’m glad I tried out, and one I would recommend to anyone looking for a sampling of works by a wide variety of YA authors.

I really want to read more short stories – are there any anthologies you recommend, YA or otherwise?

Learn more about Book Wish and the Darfur project HERE

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. May 24, 2012 12:12 pm

    I am not a big fan of short story collections as I find that as soon as you are invested in the story/characters it ends and a new one starts. But I am glad you enjoyed this one.

  2. May 27, 2012 7:53 pm

    I have this book on my bookshelf and can’t wait to read it. I’m also hosting a Short Story Reading challenge on my blog and here is the link to the page with reviews of short story collections or anthologies. You may find one that interests you.
    http://libraryofcleanreads.blogspot.ca/2011/12/2012-short-story-reading-challenge-link.html

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