cover image Feral Youth

Feral Youth

Shaun David Hutchinson, et al. Simon Pulse, $17.99 (320p) ISBN 978-1-4814-9111-2

Nine perspectives interweave in a novel composed of divergent, unsettling stories from authors that include Brandy Colbert, Justina Ireland, Alaya Dawn Johnson, and Stephanie Kuehn. A group of delinquent teens is sent to Zeppelin Bend, an outdoor education program that dumps them in the wilderness to teach lessons about hard work and connection. There, they take turns recounting maybe-true stories in an effort to win a promised $100 from Hutchinson’s character, who guides readers through their haphazard three-day trip. A gay teen obsessed with film legends gets appropriately cinematic revenge after being spurned in Tim Floreen’s story, while Robin Talley’s eerie “Look Down” immerses readers in classic summer-camp fare: pranks, romance, and ghosts. Marieke Nijkamp’s character, Jenna, hits on the deeper truth of these interconnected stories: “If hope is a thing with feathers... then secrets are things with talons.” The kids are considered “human garbage,” as Hutchinson’s character puts it, but their choices and situations are born of sharp, complicated moments and realities. Though the voices are distinct, it’s the overall experience of disparate people finding common understanding that lingers. Ages 14–up. (Sept.)