Tag: child point of view

Short story: “I Happy Am”

“I Happy Am,” by Jamel Brinkley

Appeared in Ploughshares Spring 2018 Vol. 44 No. 1

I would guess 4,000 words

Something like an epiphany at the end—an epiphany the boy isn’t yet prepared to understand. Good story.

His daydream of being a robot is very real.



Short story: “The Good Mothers’ Home for Wayward Girls”

“The Good Mothers’ Home for Wayward Girls,” by Izzy Wasserstein

Read by Tatiana Grey for PseudoPod 588 as part of ARTEMIS RISING 4, March 30th, 2018

3,536 words

A good creepy story.

I like the way Grey gives each of the girls a distinct voice.

Flash fiction story or fictional essay: “Columbia Market”

“Columbia Market,” by Paul Beckman

Appeared in Bartleby Snopes and winner of their December 2016 Story of the Month poll

712 words

I didn’t really get this, it felt more like a fictional essay than a story. The experiences of this impoverished thirteen-year-old are certainly interesting, but there’s no plot movement.

Flash fiction story: “The Two of Us”

“The Two of Us,” by Jeff Bakkensen

Appeared in Flash Fiction Magazine, August 31st, 2016

Only 331 words!

A moment of awakening, seems like. Maybe even a coming of age (though I sort of dislike that term/concept). I definitely feel like this kid is a child, not a teenager.

Flash fiction story (?): “Smelling Static”

“Smelling Static,” by Steffan Triplett

Appeared in The Offing, December 13th, 2017

A mere 94 words

A powerful glimpse into a boy’s life. Perhaps a coming of age, even? Wouldn’t have been possible without Degrassi.

Not sure what the title means. Did old-fashioned TV screens smell of static sometimes?

This makes me feel better

“Being creepy is a part of human nature, and learning to recognize and put boundaries on our own creepiness is something curricular Sex Ed should teach us, but never will.”

—Helena Fitzgerald in this great essay about growing up (found via this)

Short story: “Everyone Will Want One”

“Everyone Will Want One,” by Kelly Sandoval

Appeared in Asimov’s #464, September 2014, edited by Sheila Williams; read by Erin Bardua for episode 498 of Escape Pod, July 6th, 2015

5,837 words

(Spoilers.) An interesting artificial intelligence story, as well as a subtle, economical high school drama. (Or are they in middle school?) I like the note of hope at the end.

Short story: “Leopard”

“Leopard,” by Wells Tower

Appeared in the New Yorker, November 10th, 2008 (online here); read by David Sedaris for the New Yorker Fiction Podcast, January 2nd, 2018 (online here)

Maybe 4,000 words? Feels rather concise

I wanted this story to keep going. I was startled when it ended where it did.

I take the leopard to be a symbol of the boy’s inner life, his (justified) anger at his stepfather, and the power he wants to wield in the world. It’s scrawny and half-tame, much like a typical eleven-year-old boy.

When a story is in the second person, inevitably, that’s the first thing reviewers pounce on. Why is it in second person, does it place you more fully in the character’s shoes, does it demand too much identification from the reader, et cetera. I don’t usually care if a story is in second person or not. But I did notice that parts of this story were in the imperative mood, and they stuck out slightly. I feel like it works, overall.

Short story: “Her Brother and His Sister”

“Her Brother and His Sister,” by Bill Kte’pi

Appeared in The Dark, January 2018, online here

2,278 words

A dark, eerie tale.

Short story: “A Little Hero”

“A Little Hero” (“Маленький герой”), by Fyodor Dostoyevsky (originally under the pseudonym “М-ий”)

According to the Russian Wikipedia, written in prison and first published in 1857 in the eighth issue of the magazine Отечественные записки/Otechestvennye Zapiski (Notes of the Fatherland); collected in White Nights and Other Stories, translated by Constance Garnett (on Gutenberg.org); also online here

14,930 words in English

Have I mentioned I’m a sucker for a well-written child character? And for Dostoyevsky’s children especially? I love the cruelty of the coquette who teases him, the way he demands respect and gets it, his childishness even as he edges near adolescence, and above all, the ending.

Any story about a child or adolescent is liable to read as a coming-of-age story, because like any main character, the child/adolescent must change in some way. (Though there are exceptions, like “Voices Lost in Snow.”) “A Little Hero,” however, seems to portray a genuine coming of age, as its main character learns to deal with the first blushes of sexuality, to assert himself, and to take action for others’ sakes.

Like most of my favorite first-person stories of children, this one is clearly narrated by the adult, with complete sympathy for his childhood self.

What a thing to have written in prison! What a thing to have written with a death sentence hanging over your head!