Young Adult Literature


Gunstories: Life-Changing Experiences with Guns
by S. Beth Atkin


From School Library Journal
Grade 7 Up–Atkin's Voices from the Streets (Little, Brown, 1996), about the life and times of youthful gang members, stimulated her research into guns and how they affect teens' lives. This book is the result, providing transcripts of interviews with young people from across the country. It clearly shows the diversity of the American gun culture, contrasting, for example, Ohio 4-H clubs that train boys and girls to target shoot competitively with South Central L.A., where their urban counterparts too often find themselves in the front lines of gun violence. Some of the interviewees have been shot, others have seen the lives of strangers, friends, and family members devastated by shootings. Hunting accidents, unintentional shootings, and suicide are other aspects of the issue that are addressed. Though there is a bit of repetition, the stories clearly bear the stamp of each teen's individual reality, including those who seem, in turn, naive, overtly influenced by adults around them, and/or jaded. Atkin's often artful photographs personalize the tragedies of those who have suffered and reveal something of the hopes of teens to whom guns are seen as tools for good. Additional material includes Web-site postings, the text of the Second Amendment, etc. This book should be useful for students involved in the debate about guns in our culture as well as for those with a general interest in the subject.–Joel Shoemaker, Southeast Junior High School, Iowa City, IA