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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
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
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
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,
- 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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