Reviewed by Lindsay Denninger -

Sudden Flash Youth: 65 Short Short Stories edited by Christine Perkins-Hazuka, Tom Hazuka, and Mark Budman

    Persea - December 15, 2011
    ISBN 978-0892553716, $12.95 (softcover)

The title of Sudden Flash Youth: 65 Short Short Stories is perfect, based on the content of the tales within. Youth, though when aching to grow up, feels unimaginably long, is fleeting, wasted—as the saying goes—on the young. This is the only collection of short shorts we know of with youth as its center theme.

The short stories in this collection run the gamut, from futuristic tales of avatar romance to the experiences of immigrant teens to the realizations that your parents are people, just as fallible as the rest of the world. For some, adolescence is like the dull ache of incoming wisdom teeth: adulthood is just breaking through the surface. Others are caught in the hope and possibility of the beginning of a life.

Stand-outs from the collection include "Currents" by Hannah Bottomy Voskuil, an effective short tale of the first realization of just how short life is; Daphne Beal's "Heartland," in which a young woman truly sees the older man she is dating for the first time; and Peter Bacho's "Beyond Yesler," a story about the second chance of a kid who used to run with the wrong crowd. At the collection's best, the tales within capture the cloudy side of growing up. Readers are not saturated with John Hughes-movie fare, but instead the honesty and confusion that growing up allows.

Though some of the stories feel dramatically simply for drama's sake, isn't that what adolescence is about? The thought that the next move you make could impact everything ever after? In Sudden Flash Youth, readers are given the full experience of young adulthood, complete with joyous grins, shocking lows, first-love butterflies, and a few growing pains.