Everyone Dies Famous in a Small Town

Random/Wendy Lamb. Apr. 2021. 208p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781984892591.
Gr 7 Up–Dog-sledding in Alaska, enjoying ice cream on the beach in Washington, playing basketball in Montana—each short story in this collection, all set west of the Mississippi in rural areas, features characters with unique interests and situations. One character is juggling her grief and anger, another is chasing after a lost lover after receiving a postcard from him. The tales are all connected. For example, a minor character in one is the star in the next. There are darker threads too: missing girls and sexual predators; ambivalence between long-time friends and significant others; and the constant, crushing scrutiny everyone is under in sparsely populated areas. All of the stories take place in the 1990s, but characters often discuss and cope with topics that teenagers today would recognize, such as wildfires, avoiding straws to help the environment, and a skepticism of the media. This is also a good demonstration of the variation of small towns: Some feature gun-toting and pious characters, while others feature feminists who relate to the oceanic tides. Most characters in the collection are white, and there is one major character who is gay.
VERDICT Recommended for libraries in rural areas as well as those with high readership of nature and true crime books.

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