Time Capsule ed. by Donald R. Gallo.
Delacorte Press/Random House: NY, 1999.

I love the concept for these short stories. Each story deals with a different decade of the 20th century. All of the stories are good.

The Electric Summer by Richard Peck is about a girl's trip to the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair. A girl whose family is normally too busy working their farm to do anything so extravagant. Richard Peck is a master at depicting the life of poor farmers from this period, like in his novel A Long Way From Chicago. He tends to play towards their strengths - for ex. their ingenuity and flexibility.

Bootleg Summer by Will Weaver is about a teen's summer working for a gangster near the Canadian border. Interestingly, he sees himself as the bad guy in the end, not the gangster.

Moving On by Jeanette Ingold explores the relationship between a white girl and her family's black servant of about the same age. The girls grew up together, and the servant is moving on looking for a better chance at life. It also describes a cousin who is a modern girl and treats the servant poorly and unthinkingly.

Brother, Can You Spare a Dream? by Jackie French Koller is an interview for a high school project of an 80 year old man recalling the poverty of the Depression and the flooding of the Swift River Valley to create a reservoir for Boston and how it impacted the townspeople in the area. I liked the idea of the interview, and the discussion of the man's boarding one of the construction workers was particularly effective.

Waiting for the War by Graham Salisbury deals with three themes: the reactions of native Hawaiians to the mainlanders overrunning their lands, the training or breaking of a horse and trust between the horse and rider, and the waiting of the soldiers to be sent into WWII. The soldiers' condition was a perspective I'd never seen addressed. It made me think and bears some resemblance to current events

We Loved Lucy by Trudy Krisher depicts two drastically different perspectives on life during the fifties: the perfect nuclear family with their nationalistic patriotism and fear of communism and a family with a much freer attitude, enjoying life and not taking it too seriously. The contrast is between the Shellburnes with their building of a fallout shelter and attendance at the weekly civil defense meetings and the Whompers who enjoy Monday nights together watching I Love Lucy and are less concerned about appearances or communists

Fourth and Too Long by Chris Crutcher is another story focused on appearances. A high school football star who decides longer hair enhances his looks is standing up for his right to keep his hair. The battle of wills could cost him a scholarship and his team the championship, but the point is deeper than hair. It isn't the first time the coach has asked sacrifices of Benny for the team without considering his situation. The story also touches on the Vietnam War and Native Americans.

Do You Know Where Your Parents Are? by Bruce Brooks is a bit quirky. A boy lies to his hippie parents about his activities, so he can play football for his school. It turns out they have been putting on a show for him all year as well, because they are embarrassed about their own competitive behavior.

Rust Never Sleeps by Chris Lynch relates the story of a teen who flies solo from Germany to Russia as a political statement and becomes a celebrity overnight. Years later, an American girl is excited that his brother is coming to live with her family as an exchange student. Her brother holds a different attitude, and it turns out that the reality can be different from the appearance.

In Y2K. CHATRM43 by Alden R. Carter, Joel moderates a chat room with the intention of internationally discussing important issues. His local friend gives him a hard time about the hours he spends on the internet, but he feels he is truly connecting with people and encouraging discussion and open-mindedness, which is the world's only chance for peace and even survival. His friend participates and decides maybe he is right.

The only thing I think could be different about the collection is that it might have been better as a set of books, one for each decade. One story cannot represent a whole decade well. The earlier decades might have been harder to create stories. Certainly they would have had a more historical feel.

related-short stories, United States history, 20th century

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