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Young Adult Fiction 290
A short, engaging collection
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EVERYONE DIES FAMOUS IN A SMALL TOWN is a collection of interconnected short stories that focus on teen life in small towns, specifically ones in Alaska and Colorado, in the 1990s. Each story shifts to a different character, but there is a consistent thread of relation (like the best friend of a character in one story getting her own in another). The stories cover issues ranging from changing family dynamics to sexual assault to broken friendships to town tragedies.

My favorite stories were “Angry Starfish,” “Sea-Shaken Houses,” and “There’s Gas in the Tank, Louise!” “Angry Starfish” opens the collection with an angry girl who is upset that her father is seeing someone new and all the changes that come with that, like having to deal with the new woman’s young daughter. It starts the collection off with a huge punch of a voice that expertly captures how anger can grow and fester. “Sea-Shaken Houses” focuses on childhood friends growing up in a remote place and the unique bond that forms. It also highlights the fragileness of such a friendship when one person moves. “There’s Gas in the Tank, Louise!” is an abrupt shift from the rest of the collection, so the placement at the end was fitting. It takes a sharper, unexpected turn that concludes the book on a bittersweet note.

With such strong opening and closing stories, the middle stories fell a bit in comparison. There were also several times I wished I had a chart that explained how everyone connected and where we were in the timeline.

Between the compelling voice and wide range of emotions, EVERYONE DIES FAMOUS IN A SMALL TOWN is a short, engaging collection that proves there is more under the surface of small towns than meets the eye.
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