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Destination UnexpectedReview - Destination Unexpected
Short Stories
by Donald R. Gallo (Editor)
Candlewick Press, 2003
Review by Lorraine Rice
Jan 4th 2005 (Volume 9, Issue 1)

It is said that life is a journey and experience is a teacher, but those who have their eye on the destination often miss the trip. Donald Gallo has amassed a collection of young adult short stories whose characters take a journey to a place of understanding and maturity.†

In one story, Darius, a young black writer, takes his past experience with the world to a new place, a place where the color of his skin, his outrageous attire, his social status, and even his youth take a back seat to his talents as a writer. When Mr. Gould, his English teacher says, "Darius, you're gifted!" the boy is stunned, and when he wins an adult writing competition and must go to accept his award, he is terrified. What he learns on the bus trip across town to the ceremony and the final destination are both unexpected and life altering.

In another, Lindley Havens finds at her journey's end that those we admire the most for whatever reason have warts just like the folks back home, making theirs look pretty good. Because of this revelation, she sees herself in a new light that gives her the courage to go her own way unashamed of her beginnings, because "it didn't look like there were any limits at all anymore on where else [she] could go."

All the young characters in these stories have an epiphany at their journey's end that is both surprising and empowering to them, and this is what makes these stories inspiring. They are about the characters looking in a mirror and seeing themselves as they are and could be. Sometimes they are about the secrets that grown-ups will never know, like the lesson in being a real Christian that Tommy learns and takes to heart from a most unlikely source, the town troublemaker, in "Bread on the Water". Sometimes they are about discovering the goodness that has always been within them as Mick does when he overcomes his jealousy, and realizes what a precious gift his sister Franny is in "August Lights". Nevertheless, all are about self-actualization.††

Many of these adolescents seem afraid of what they will find at the journey's end, just as they fear what the grown-up world will throw at them, but their fears are never realized, or at least not for long, and this is what makes this anthology uplifting and inspirational. While it runs a little in the soap opera vein, it doesn't get too sappy and never condescending, and even seems to speak secretly to teens who might be in any one of the different situations in which the characters find themselves. Unexpected burdens in life often turn themselves into blessings and recognizing the good in the bad is one of the lessons of growing up. It's a lesson Helene learns in "Tourist Trapped" when her dream vacation turns into a nightmare. For over a year she had saved her minimum wage earnings to visit her aunt and uncle in Cape Cod never suspecting that "her relatives might be desperate for a live-in babysitter" and that her "aunt would be six months pregnant and under doctor's orders to lie around the house like a queen." But Helene learns that blessings come in small packages.

All of the stories in Destination Unexpected are appropriate in language and vocabulary for teens of all ages, and most will find them enjoyable to read, and will perhaps even be encouraged by them to look at their own fears, ambitions, and situations of family, friends, and school and realize they are not alone.†

 

© 2005 Lorraine Rice

 

Lorraine Rice provides the following information about herself.

  • Adjunct Professor of English and ESL at Suffolk Community College, NY for 16 years.
  • Poet and Artist My web page: http://hometown.aol.com/euterpel66/myhomepage/poetry.html
  • Widow and mother of three adult children and one granddaughter.
  • BA St. John's University, Jamaica NY
  • MA SUNY at Stony Brook, NY
  • Like to explore: the Internet, evolutionary-psychology, countries, books, people, outdoors, flea markets, and old roads.
  • Like to create: portraits, gardens, found-object sculpture, lists, poems, and friendships.
  • Like to travel: to most of US States, Canada, Bermuda, England, Brazil, China, and Mexico.

 

 


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