In these 12 well-honed stories told in first-person narrative, Johnson (Toning the Sweep) zeroes in on the idealism and resiliency that make young people a powerful force in the world. Despite their rough circumstances, these characters have a keen and refreshing sense of justice that helps them recognize--and perform--compassionate acts. In ""Starr,"" Johnson paints a stirring portrait of an unusual woman who makes the most of her finite life span, as seen through the eyes of the young girl she babysits. And in ""Sweetness,"" Johnson delves into the contradictions of human nature, focusing on a 15-year-old who saves an abandoned baby and holds up a convenience store in the same day. Johnson ties this collection together with the dual themes of homelessness and belonging; whatever their personal hardships, these characters find shelter in their connection to others, grace in their appreciation of life's uplifting moments. Johnson's flavorful language will draw readers immediately into these brief, emotion-packed dramas. And after entering the often harsh and humbling worlds Johnson describes, readers will agree with the narrator of ""By the Time You Read This"": ""Some people come into your life and do nothing but make it better. They help you see what you may become. They foster growth and health in all things."" Ages 11-up. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 08/31/1998 Release date: 09/01/1998 Genre: Children's
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