Thursday, July 29, 2010

Review: Free? Stories About Human Rights Ed. by Amnesty International

Found via: Publisher's Weekly 4/19

I'll admit, I'm not the biggest fan of short story collections - I much prefer to let myself get wrapped up in one long narrative. However, I'm always willing to give them a try if the theme of the collection seems interesting. Considering I'm big on social justice and human rights, I thought this one would be safe to try.

Free?: Stories About Human RightsThe stories are written by a variety of YA authors and touch upon many of the tenets of the UN's 1948 Declaration of Human Rights. Just to clarify what rights were enumerated in the story, each one ends with the declaration (or two) it was themed around.

The collection stumbles, however, in the haphazard way some of these declarations are applied. One story, about a kid who stumbles upon a sweatshop of underage children, has someone at the end randomly note that now the kids can get an education - and that's enough for the story to cover the "you have the right to go to school" declaration, as well as one other. Other stories barely qualify as actual stories, being more vignettes - glimpses into someone's life without any actual conflict or action.

A few pieces stand out as legitimately good stories - a poem about the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina as a group of teens search for food and water in the ruined city stands out, as does another about a family fleeing Zimbabwe in the aftermath of contested elections. These were compelling and riveting stories, which just served to highlight the relative weakness of many others.
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