________________ CM . . . . Volume VII Number 9 . . . . January 5, 2001

cover Graveyard Girl: Stories.

Wendy A. Lewis.
Red Deer, AB: Red Deer Press, 2000.
92 pp., pbk., $6.95.
ISBN 0-88995-202-7.

Grades 10 and up / Ages 15 and up.

Review by Joanne Peters.

*** /4


A few books were up there, too, the kind you want to keep but don't want to look at all the time Like Lil's mama's bible. A book of poems from high school. And my yearbook from 1982.

I stared at the spine of that yearbook so long my bare feet stuck to the naughahyde ottoman. Stared 'cause that's where the voices were coming from. Had the feeling that if I opened it, I'd get sucked in and chewed up, till there was nothing left for Ray to come home to but my sweaty footprints on the naughahyde.

I opened it anyway. Real casual, like I was just gonna flip through. But it fell open to the page I must've stared at a million times back then. Fell open and laid there, the picture staring up at me, as if it was remembering, too . . . .

What is this picture, and why is this one so particularly compelling? It is a picture of a group of high school students, members of the graduating class of 1982 in a small town called Lee, recreating "The Wedding of the Century," the marriage of Prince Charles to Lady Diana Spencer. Nearly two decades later, we all know how that so-called fairy tale wedding turned out. And in the years that follow, the student participants in this mock wedding face real-life challenges which, in one way or another, connect with their roles in this strange event. Although the premise seems strange, the interlinked stories (and for one character, a poem cycle) work. Lewis is brilliant at capturing the individual voice of each character, and, as each story is told, the collective impact becomes increasingly more powerful. The challenges faced by these young adults--early marriage as a result of an unplanned pregnancy, facing one's homosexuality, confronting serious illness, to name but three--are both extraordinary and, yet, typical for their age group. Each character struggles with a life-changing event, and that struggle becomes the focal point of each story. For these members of the wedding, life is no fairy-tale.

      Graveyard Girl is a strong collection of stories. Older teens are its intended audience, both because of language and some of the sexual content; most younger teens might find it difficult to connect with some of the situations depicted. Those acquiring the collection should pre-read it before making it available, although there is little in the content which students would not have seen on prime-time television. The authenticity of its language and experience make this book worth acquiring for high school fiction collections.


Joanne Peters is the teacher-librarian at Kelvin High School in Winnipeg, MB.

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ISSN 1201-9364