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Firebirds Rising
edited by Sharyn November
Firebird, 544 pages

Firebirds Rising
Sharyn November
Sharyn November was born in New York City, and has stayed close by ever since. She received a B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College, where she studied and wrote poetry. Her work has appeared in Poetry, The North American Review, and Shenandoah, among other magazines, and she received a working scholarship to Bread Loaf. Since 1990, she has been at Penguin Group (USA), where she is a senior editor at both Viking Children's Books (hardcover) and Puffin Books (paperback). Her imprint, Firebird -- a mostly paperback fantasy and science fiction imprint for teenage and adult readers -- was launched in January 2002.

Sharyn November Website
ISFDB Bibliography

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Rodger Turner

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These days being a teenager is tough. They have competitive parents telling them what they should do to ensure a good future. They have McJob employers giving them no end of grief over the franchise's rules and regulations. They have peers giving them bad advice for no reason other than an attempt at undermining their status in the local teenage hierarchy. They have their media idols trying to sell them on the latest fashion or tech toy. It seems that almost nobody is on their side and, when there is someone, often it leads to a betrayal to be buddies with someone cooler. It's no wonder adults think teens are rude and inconsiderate. How would you feel if it appeared that everybody was out to get you?

But there are methods that can help them overcome. A number of them appear in Firebirds Rising, a second anthology edited by Sharyn November. Some are devious, some are mean and some are too cool for words. Let us look at a few.

In every school there are those who are the envy of everyone. The are the best-dressed, prettiest, most handsome, go the locales all others want to attend and seem to glide through the classes with nary a mussed hair. Everyone else wants to hang out with them. So when you are asked to join them, it is such a rush. Your future is golden. But it soon becomes apparent that the gold is gilded. You want out but you know they'll turn on you in a flash. Tamora Pierce has a final solution in the story, "Huntress."

Dances are an integral part of the high school rite of passage. Sometimes you have nothing to wear, especially for one at Hallowe'en. That's where a best friend comes in. They'll help out. But seeing someone in the context of their home is different from seeing them in the halls or the malls. Sometimes their home life isn't quite what you expect. In "Unwrapping," Nina Kiriki Hoffman has a way to make that surprise easier to handle.

A lot of the time you feel lost, disconnected from your parents and your peers. Meeting someone whose family lives in the walls of your house, is about 6 inches tall and has it worse than you can help alleviate those feelings. Common goals and common attitudes make you realize there is always someone else who can use your help and distract you from your troubles, if only for a little while. Charles de Lint in "Little (Grrl) Lost" shows us how.

Sometimes you feel lost, adrift in a world which doesn't seem to care and isn't willing to help. You can't seem to put into words what's bugging you or what you need to improve things. Where do you turn? The obvious answer is your local library and the people who work there. The books provide you with guidance, other people's experience, methods to overcome adversity and the people show you where to find it, where to discover the next step in coping, how it can apply to you. But there comes a day when all of the reading and all of the advice needs to be applied. You need to get out and find out how all of your development applies to you life. You need to open that door and step out and live your life. Ellen Klages in her bittersweet story, "In the House of the Seven Librarians" leads us through these stages in building a life.

There are many more lessons described in this anthology. You'll find them in such stories as "I'll Give You My Word" by Diana Wynne Jones, "Wintermoon Wish" from Sharon Shinn, "The Wizards of Perfil" by Kelly Link, Patricia A. McKillip's "Jack O'Lantern," and "Quill" by Carol Emshwiller. Firebirds Rising provides lessons for all ages. Its contents can advise you how to cope, how to understand and how to help. Every family should have have one. Drop by your local book store and pick up a copy. You'll be happy you did.

Copyright © 2006 Rodger Turner

Rodger has read a lot of science fiction and fantasy in forty years. He can only shake his head and say, "So many books, so little time."


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