Title: Everyone Dies Famous in a Small Town
Author: Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock
Publisher: Faber, London
Publication date: 2021
Genre: Youth Fiction
Reviewer: Jaala Beauchamp
Admittedly I don’t usually read short stories, but with this title, Everyone Dies Famous in a Small Town, I just had to give it a try and I was not disappointed.
Like any good young adult book it is written to gain and hold the attention of a typically difficult audience (teenagers), so I knew it would be engaging at the very least.
What I found was a surprising series of interconnected story strands based around moments of American small-town living, from young adult perspectives.
This is not actually a book of short stories, instead it is an elegant collection of story strands that allow the whole picture to be revealed from multiple perspectives.
Unlike a typical set of short stories, you will find no contents page, instead these stories are designed to be read in sequence, much like a chapter book.
As each ‘chapter’ contains a different protagonist you can be forgiven for wondering how this character or story relates to the others.
Indeed, the first few stories ‘Angry Starfish’, ‘Pigeon Creek’ and ‘Sea-Shaken Houses’ didn’t seem related, it is only as you read more you realise how connected everything is.
As I read I encountered characters who were dealing with death, being cheated on, moving towns, hitchhiking, dealing with abuse, having second thoughts about life after school and so much more.
The reality of being a teenager living in a small town is explored in these brief moments and it is quite powerful.
It was amazing how these different characters were connected in circumstantial yet significant ways.
I didn’t want each story to end yet I appreciated the brisk pace which made me wonder how the stories would be resolved.
I was happy to find out this was not your typical teenage angsty novel.
In fact, I finished the book feeling invigorated by the characters and amazed at how the author managed to weave such a story.
I like that it doesn’t shy away from controversial issues, making each story strand intriguing and a little challenging at times.
This was such an interesting reading experience; I highly recommend this book to ages fifteen and above.
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