Things I'll Never Say
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Things I'll Never Say:
Stories About Our Secret Selves

Ann Angel, editor
Candlewick Press, March 24, 2015
ISBN 978-0-7636-7307-9
short stories for young adults

A baby no one knows about. A dangerous hidden identity. Off-limits hookups. A parent whose problems your friends won’t understand. Everyone keeps secrets—from themselves, from their families, from their friends—and secrets have a habit of shaping the lives around them. Acclaimed author Ann Angel brings together some of today’s most gifted YA authors to explore, in a variety of genres, the nature of secrets: Do they make you stronger or weaker? Do they alter your world when revealed? Do they divide your life into what you’ll tell and what you won’t? The one thing these diverse stories share is a glimpse into the secret self we all keep hidden.

Contributors: Ann Angel, Kerry Cohen, Louise Hawes, Varian Johnson, erica l. kaufman, Ron Koertge, E. M. Kokie, Chris Lynch, Kekla Magoon, Zoë Marriott, Katy Moran, J. L. Powers, Mary Ann Rodman, Cynthia Leitich Smith, Ellen Wittlinger

Awards and Honors:

CCBC Choices 2016


“This new collection of short stories about secrets is an ideal combination of form and subject. Edited by award-winning biographer Angel (Janis Joplin: Rise Up Singing, 2010), this brings together 15 acclaimed voices from across the YA publishing field, all of them offering distinct, powerful, and often unexpected stories of teens who discover unexpected truths, reveal hidden secrets, and keep other things safely hidden as they continue on their journeys. It’s an impressively unusual spread of authors, including Ron Koertge, Chris Lynch, Katy Moran, and Cynthia Leitich Smith. Many of the stories speak to the contemporary lives of today’s teens, while some, such as Zoë Marriott’s lovely “Storm Clouds Fleeing from the Wind,” evoke other times and places. The balance and diversity that Angel has achieved here is marvelous, and nearly any teen who picks this up will find a bit of herself or himself—or at least a friend—inside these pages. A collection to treasure and share widely.”

“In this thoughtful anthology of 15 original stories from Ron Koertge, Chris Lynch, Kekla Magoon, and more, readers receive intimate glimpses into the lives of teenagers carrying secrets about their families, friendships, or passions. With the exception of “Cupid’s Beaux,” Cynthia Leitich Smith’s lighthearted fantasy about a guardian angel, the selections have a generally sober tone, addressing serious issues. In two stories, Ellen Wittlinger’s “The We-Are-Like-Everybody-Else Game” and Erica L. Kaufman’s “Three-Four Time,” high-school girls are forced to play adult roles, caring for unstable parents while trying to maintain façades of normalcy. Other stories reveal the unexpected consequences of sexual exploits, like the baby, given up for adoption, who haunts the thoughts of his teen father in Mary Ann Rodman’s “Choices.” Then there’s Luke in editor Angel’s “We Were Together,” who gives his girlfriend herpes after cheating on her. Rather than providing tidy solutions to the characters’ dilemmas, the stories focus on the feelings of entrapment and anxiety that go along with living a lie.”

“A collection of 15 short stories by different authors focuses on learning, keeping and telling secrets.The theme provides a common thread, but otherwise, the stories are diverse in both genre and content. Some stories are fantasy and others, realistic; some are lighthearted and others, heavier. Some follow a classic trajectory in which a secret is kept then climactically revealed, while others are more subversive. Quality varies. Kekla Magoon reveals a universe of detail when her character, the only black girl in her grade at boarding school, tells readers she didn't bring any of her eating-disorder-related paraphernalia with her when she left for school, "As if I already knew I wouldn't need it." In Louise Hawes' "When We Were Wild," the alcohol-soaked fairy tales told by the mother of the outcast girl the narrator refuses to admit to being friends with sparkle with twisted hopefulness.”

“In this collection of dramatic short stories by various authors, all of the protagonists have secrets, though some are more intense and life-altering than others. Other than fulfilling this unifying theme, the entries are quite diverse. They span across several genres, including realistic, paranormal, and historical fiction. Regardless of the setting, these tales tackle often taboo subjects, such as inappropriate relations with teachers, gender issues, and mental disorders. Inclusion of drugs, alcohol, swearing, and liaisons between teens and more mature adults make this work appropriate for older readers. ... Overall, this collection will resonate with many young adults who have their own secrets as well as readers who vicariously live through the risqué lifestyles of others. VERDICT: A very discussible title for fans of Chris Lynch’s and Ellen Hopkins’s hard-hitting realistic fiction.”

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