Something To Hang On To - Summary

Something To Hang On To

Something to Hang On To (Thistledown Press, spring, 2009) is a collection of Beverley Brenna’s Young Adult short stories depicting a diverse cast of quirky and honest young teens in tough times. In varied settings, characters battle through adversity: a fear of heights, family violence, living with Down Syndrome, muscular dystrophy, autism, and even a toe caught in the vacuum. The collection depicts teens that wish to be noticed for their abilities and interests, not categorically disabled by single traits or unfortunate situations.

In the title story we meet Taylor Jane Simon from Brenna’s original novel Wild Orchid, moving back to the city for a job interview and university studies. In “Dragon Tamer,” from the bedside of his dying father, a teenage boy recalls his own hospital stay as a young boy recovering from pneumonia. A creative boy with a pervasive developmental disorder escapes to his tree house to write poetry in “Foil Butterflies”. Set in pre-colonial Canada, “Gift of the Old Wives” relates the perspective of a young Cree girl with the unique ability to predict an impending Blackfoot attack on her tribe. In “Finding Your Voice,” an exceptional and unconditional friendship is made between an insular foster child and girl immobilized by muscular dystrophy. In “One of the Guys,” Brenna employs evocative writing mechanics in a first person narration of a boogie- boarding teen boy with Down’s Syndrome who finds solace and companionship on the Gold Coast. “Travelling Light” is an existentialist play, borrowing from the absurdist style of Ionesco, Beckett, and Pinter. The dialogue between mother and teenage son will strike a chord in readers who know that families are sites of resistance as well as support.

The twelve stories that comprise Something to Hang On To vary in time, place, and voice. These tales, many previously published in anthologies, offer pathos as well as zany humour and create maximum appeal for a teen reading audience.