Though I am grateful for many things this Thanksgiving weekend, one item that tops my list is Sharon G. Flake’s new collection of short stories and poems featuring teenage boys and their angst. She is one of the hippest authors for teens around, and a new title from her is ALWAYS cause for celebration. This book is a companion piece to one of her earlier works, Who Am I Without Him? Short stories about girls and the boys in their lives (a title I have successfully shopped to so many teens I’ve lost count), and provides the adolescent 411 from the dudes’ POV. Navigating issues from teen marriage and suicide, to neighborhood politics and hot moms who attract unwanted attention, these guys struggle to make sense of the world around them while trying to solve that most maddening of mysteries—what makes girls tick? Flake also dishes up some hot poetry in this collection, including this excerpt from the title poem, “You Don’t Even Know Me”: You tell me to quit fronting,/ You ask who I think I am,/Pretending/That I’m better than you know I really am./…You know/I’ve been wondering lately,/Trying to figure out just how it could be/That we call each other brother,/And you still don’t know a thing about me/ There’s some surprises here, too. I like all the stories, but my favorite just might be “Fakin’ It,” about a last-chance boy who’s been kicked out of every one of his relatives’ homes and is now about to be kicked out of his aunt’s house, a six million dollar lottery winner. Despite her new money and resources, she still has old-school rules and he still can’t seem to follow them no matter how many chances she gives him. Unusual and unsettling because we like to think money solves everything, I just can’t get that story out of my head. So if you want to be moved to tears, laugh out loud, or be lit up with surprise, then this is YOUR book.
You Don’t Even Know Me: Stories and poems about BOYS by Sharon G. Flake