I picked up a book published by Annick Press because I overheard one of the editors raving about it.
Annick has a five-book series called "Single Voice." It's a cool concept. Each book has two YA short stories (printed in super-huge font). The stories are back-to-back, so when you're done reading one, you flip the book over for the second story. The series seems like a good fit for reluctant teen readers.
Ytak, with a B-side, "The Pool Was Empty," by Gilles Abier. Both stories are YA for sex, language and themes. Both were translated from French.
What was your overall impression of the book?
The two stories were quick reads (less than an hour each). Don't look for the depth of a novel here. They are definitely short stories where a teen tells the reader about one life-changing event.
The story in one sentence?
- "Nothing but Your Skin" -- a developmentally disabled girl, whose parents don't see her as a whole person, gets caught having sex.
- "The Pool Was Empty" -- after being acquitted of her boyfriend's murder, shallow teen Celia examines their relationship.
Who were your favorite characters and why?
Lou, the narrator of "Nothing but Your Skin" is the most fully drawn character in both stories. I liked that she was an unreliable narrator, because of her disability (she doesn't share her specific diagnosis). Lou's understanding of her parents' limited and limiting view of her is heartbreaking.
Both stories open with big drama ("Skin" -- the lovers getting caught, "Pool" -- the court room), then retrace how the teens ended up in trouble. That tactic worked well for both pieces. I also loved the setting of "Skin," especially the characters' sexual encounter on a frozen lake's surface -- beautiful.
What did you like about the cover?
The whole flip concept is appealing. Teens will feel they are getting two for the price of one. What they're actually getting is two strong short stories, padded by large font and clever marketing.
Would you recommend to a friend? What would you say?
This one is for upper high school. I have a young friend going into 9th grade. She'd love both stories, but I wouldn't want to be the one handing this book to her -- too racy, with f-bombs. Still, "Nothing but Your Skin" in particular offers a lot to think about. I'd like to see that one expanded into a novel.
"Nothing but Your Skin" Three Scoops (expanded to novel length, it could be a Sundae), "The Pool Was Empty" One Scoop (with sprinkles).
Overall: Two and a half scoops.
Review Cheat Sheet
Empty Cone – Didn’t like it.
One Scoop – It was okay.
Two Scoops – Pretty good.
Three Scoops – Great book.
Sundae – I want to read the whole series. Now.