Monday, November 14, 2011

Damaged Kids: Zebra and Other Stories

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I use book challenges to prod myself into reading things outside my comfort zone, books I'd never noticed if I wasn't fulfilling some arbitrary goal.  Sometimes these are books that's I'd have read eagerly anytime I noticed them, but it took some silly challenge like finding a book that starts with the letter Z to stumble across it.  For example, I have no idea that Chaim Potok wrote a book of short stories called Zebra and Other Stories until I was casting about in the library catalog to fill that hole in my A-Z challenge.

Potok delivers the highly articulate children that I know from his novels, but the kids in these stories deal with family problems and solutions.  They also are not conspicuously Jewish; some are explicitly Christian.  Each story confronts the child with a detailed tough situation, from obvious problems such as an injury through damaging secrets and family conflicts.  I recognized themes from his books (loyalty to one's family and parents balanced against personal needs, the pain caused by rigid gender roles, the inherent decency of children), but short stories give a chance for single facets to shine.

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