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January 29, 2016

Review: I See Reality (12 Short Stories)

I See Reality: Twelve Short Stories About Real LifeTitle: I See Reality
Author: Various Authors
Publisher: Farrar, Starus and Giroux
Publication date: January 26, 2016
Genre(s): Young Adult, Contemporary
Source: Netgalley
Pages: 304
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Twelve original stories by top MCPG authors explore real issues for real teens.

Through prose and comics alike, these heart-pounding short stories ask hard questions about a range of topics from sexuality and addiction to violence and immigration. Here is the perfect tool for starting tough discussions or simply as an introduction to realistic literary fiction. In turns funny, thought-provoking, and heartbreaking, I See Reality will resonate with today's teens long after the last page has been turned.

Contributing authors include Jay Clark, Kristin Clark, Heather Demetrios, Stephen Emond, Patrick Flores-Scott, Faith Hicks, Trisha Leaver, Kekla Magoon, Marcella Pixley, James Preller, Jason Schmidt, and Jordan Sonnenblick.

Short story anthologies are usually a strange experience, while you may absolutely love some stories, there are always bound to be some you just don't like. I'm going to be honest, this one was more difficult than usual to get through. It started off pretty strong but as it went on the feel of the stories were starting to mix together. Everything had this sort of depressing coat over it. This anthology has nothing light in it (maybe the little graphic in the middle) and you have to be ready to read about some serious topics when you pick it up.

Three Imaginary Conversations With You by Heather Demetrios

I feel like this was a very powerful short story. It managed to be extremely impactful in such a short format. This tells the three imaginary conversations a girl, Jessa, has with her verbally and emotionally abusive boyfriend. You find yourself pushing for her to get out of this situation and Heather accomplishes this connection between the reader and Jessa in three short chapters. The story really feels complete by the end. You can tell what happened and how the abusive relationship started and that doesn't happen often in short stories. (4/5 stars) 

The Downside of Fabulous by Kristin Elizabeth Clark

This short story features a gay teen. The thing I really loved about it was that Chris doesn't make a big deal about being gay. It's just part of his life and he doesn't feel the need to come out and announce it. He's content with it. But when he does some out not even his closest friends seem to believe him. I liked the focus on  stereotypes and how people need to be more accepting and not just go off of whatever stereotype they believe. (3/5 stars) 

The Night of the Living Creeper by Stephen Emond 

This third story is actually the most interesting and the weirdest. First, the narrator (main character) is a cat. Second, it's a mystery where you try to find out who the Creeper is. Third, it had some pretty cool drawings on the pages. It had so much potential to be something great and different, but it fell flat to me. It just ended up being weird. The mystery wasn't all that mysterious and it felt like a deep conversation that went no where. (1.5/5 stars)

Makeshift by Kekla Magoon

This story was about a girl and her mom who have to leave the life they know behind and start over. Sadly, I didn't enjoy this one much either. I'm starting to see a pattern in this collections of short stories, they all feel a bit incomplete. I get that they're short, but so far I feel like I'm missing something. (2/5 stars)

Things You Get Over, Things You Don't by Jason Schmidt 

This story was most definitely one with the biggest shock factor for me. It's centered around a relationship and a school shooting. I was reading this particular story at night and the descriptions of the shooting were horrifying. I found myself gasping and wanting to cry. Shootings have been in the news a lot lately and this story just put it into a new perspective. There's a part where the author describes the shooter walking down the empty school hall and just occasionally shooting into random classrooms that gave me absolute chills. I had to actually pause and put my kindle down for a minute and reflect on it. This is one of my favorites of the anthology. (5/5 stars)

Coffee Chameleon by Jay Clark 

Okay, I was down with this story until the very end. What just happened? We follow a high school senior and his struggles with life and relationships. I love the way it takes you through months of his life and I really enjoyed seeing his character grow and change. That was my favorite part of the story, but then towards the end when I thought the story was going one way it swapped completely. I think I understand but I'm not sure how I feel about the ending. (3.5/5 stars) 

Hush by Marcella Pixley 

This story made me extremely uncomfortable and I think that was the exact purpose of the way it was written. It's about a girl and her mother and the story of why they never leave their house. It was so disturbing to read and to see what led them to be in that situation. It made me sad and angry for what the main girl had to go through. (3/5 stars)

Blackbird by Trisha Leaver 

This was also one of the few that I can say I would read over and over from this anthology. I liked the characters, the story, the writing. It all worked for me in these few pages Trisha had to capture the reader. It's about the aftermath of being the sister of a school shooter. It was serious, it was light, it was what I needed after that string of not so great stories. (4.5/5 stars)

Untitled by Faith Erin Hicks 

This was strange lol. It's a tiny comic and I'm not going to say anything about it because anything I say would give too much away. But it was okay, it wasn't anything special or interesting. It was just there. A tiny two page comic in the middle of the book. (2/5 stars)

The Sweeter the Sin by Jordan Sonnenblick 

The story of a boy who loves a girl, except it's anything but typical. I really liked this story. It's told in the span of four years and I've realized I like stories that take place over time the best. It feels like you get more of the characters, their character growth is more obvious, and you get more story development within such a short story. (4.5/5 stars)

The Mistake by James Preller

It was okay. I don't really have much to say about this one. By this point in the stories even if they're good they're not AMAZING and I'm not at all invested. This one was just okay. (3.5/5 stars)

The Good Brother by Patrick Flores-Scott 

What an impactful story. It seems fitting that the anthology opened with a very powerful story and ended with one as well. As I was reading a letter that is written within this short story I found myself relating to the character. There was so much emotion that I couldn't put the book down. What a way to end this anthology with a bang. This brought it back for me. (5/5 stars)

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