Feral Youth

HUTCHINSON, Shaun David & . 320p. S. & S./Simon Pulse. Sept. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781481491112.
Gr 9 Up—Ten troubled teens share campfire stories that reveal clues about the path that led them to Zeppelin Bend, an alternative camp for juvenile offenders. Each story is written by one of several young adult fiction authors, including Tim Floreen, Marieke Nijkamp, and Suzanne Young. The pretext of bonding in the wilderness allows for the transition of one tale to the next as the teens cook a meal, strategize the next leg of their hike, or weigh in on what they've heard. Hutchinson takes on the role of Geo the narrator, egging on his peers, whose stories vary in length, style, and degree of believability. Some are sobering, such as Cody's revenge plot on his first love, a college boy who only wanted a collection of nude selfies from the boys he charmed, then dumped. Others resemble traditional ghost stories; Georgie recounts haunting voices that tormented her at an all-girl's camp where her best friend—turned—mean girl was found dead in the woods. Jaila's (possibly drug-induced) tale of being trapped between two worlds and helped back to the present by a coyote spirit-man is a ruse to make her story sound romantic and mystical, and not a glimpse into meso-American spirituality. Lucinda's account of a school protest gone wrong is a relatable story of individualism—perhaps the overriding theme of the collection. Raw language and sexual situations in some selections will steer this to YA shelves.
VERDICT Edgy stories showcase the depth and breadth of styles in a new crop of writers for young adults. A good purchase for most libraries serving teens.

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