The Long Ride Home

Maybe it is because I’m a high school teacher and spend my days surrounded by actual young adults that my standards for YA literature are so high. My favorite books for readers in their teens are full of characters facing real life problems with no clear solutions. The dialogue needs to sound like something an actual kid would say, or else I’m gone. No messages, please. No lessons to learn that could also be imparted in a thirty minute sitcom. No morals to the story allowed. Ever. If I’m going to recommend a book to anyone to read it has…

Refund by Karen E. Bender: A Book Review

I just finished reading¬†Refund, a collection of short stories written by author Karen E. Bender and published by Counterpoint Press.¬†All of the stories center around the question of money in a post 9/11 economy for characters who are used to being able to make a living. With an eye that is beyond observant and almost prescient, Ms. Bender reveals exactly what is at stake when people’s livelihoods are threatened. Her characters scramble for dignity, survival, and a sense of selfhood while the systems that are supposed to sustain them crumble away. For me, reading this collection of stories was an…