Every Man for Himself: Ten Short Stories About Being a Guy ed by Nancy E. Mercado.
Dial Books: NY, 2005.

Ten male YA authors offer stories of guys with difficult, real decisions to make, confronted by life with no guide. Flying by the seat of your pants decisions in crucial situations. There is no space wasted in this book. The stories are real and thought-provoking, not the standard safe topics. The characters are alive and sweating.

Walter Dean Myers writes about a star athlete's prom date, with the usual worries plus a race angle included. A white girl wins a date with him, and everyone appears to be watching. René Saldaña, Jr. submits a story of extreme high school bullying with his character pushing back. Paul Acampora's story reveals a young man's choice between bullying his kid brother, like he has been, or sharing a part of himself and being an anchor. David Lubar describes a relationship in which a girl's intention is to shock her parents, not realizing her dad is a shocker himself. The boy she uses only has a shocking exterior. Edward Averett's story stars a boy who's been sent to live with his grandma in the country because of a family situation. Pigs and the girl next door lead him through his troubles. Craig Thompson's entry is a graphic history and growing process of punk rock nerds and gamers. Mo Willems writes about a school for superkids. Bill Blaze the Unbeatable's only limitation is that hurting others hurts him. With a name like Unbeatable, everyone is out to get him. It is a story of betrayal and using your strength wisely. David Levithan describes two brothers living in different worlds. The older, who is gay, tests his parents to see if they accept him as he is. The younger not only accepts him but stands up to include him in the family again. Terry Trueman's protagonist is home alone and confronted by robbers who know who he is. He can either give in to their demands, possibly risking his life, or find away to scare them into backing off. Ron Koertge tells about a boy whose best friend (female) helps him through difficult times. He'd like to be more than friends, but their friendship is too important. When he finds his friend slipping away from him, he wishes he'd done things differently.

After the stories, there is a question and answer section with the authors about becoming men. The authors obviously took the questions seriously and gave some good answers. Some are usual responses, others geeky, and others about as real as you can get.

related-teenage boys, teenagers, interpersonal relations, short stories, identity, coming of age, difficult choices

shorts, best2009, yahorizons

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