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The Confessional

by J. L. Powers

When longtime animosities between a Mexican and a white American student at a Texas high school finally flare into violence, one ends up in the hospital with a broken arm and a fractured ego. A few hours later, the other ends up dead. In the reverb, friends and enemies alike are left to grapple with loss, suspicion, and rapidly escalating racial tensions. Narrated with brutal candor by six boys--each with a very different take on the week's events--The Confessional blends murder mystery, contemporary politics, and high school drama to create a gritty, fast-paced read.From the Paperback edition.

That Mad Game

by J. L. Powers

What's it like to grow up during war? To be a victim of violence or exiled from your homeland, culture, family, and even your own memories? When America's talking heads talk about war, children and teenagers are often the forgotten part of the story. Yet who can forget images of the Vietnam "baby lift," when Amer-Asian children were flown out of Vietnam to be adopted by Americans? Who can forget the horror of learning that Iranian children were sent on suicide missions to clear landmines? Who wasn't captivated by stories of the "lost boys" of Sudan, traveling thousands of miles alone through the desert, seeking shelter and safety? From the cartel-terrorized streets of Juárez to the bombed-out cities of Bosnia to Afghanistan under the Taliban, from Nazi-occupied Holland to the middle-class American home of a Vietnam vet, this collection of personal and narrative essays explores both the universal and particular experiences of children and teenagers who came of age during a time of war.J.L. Powers is the editor of Labor Pains and Birth Stories and the author of two young adult novels, most recently This Thing Called the Future, an alternative fantasy set in post-apartheid South Africa. She began collecting essays on children and war while pregnant with her first child and says, "The experience was both painful and uplifting, not unlike giving birth. The most memorable aspect of these essays is their stark portrayal of both survival and hope in the midst of incredible suffering."

This Thing Called the Future

by J. L. Powers

Khosi lives with her beloved grandmother Gogo, her little sister Zi, and her weekend mother in a matchbox house on the outskirts of Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. In that shantytown, it seems like somebody is dying all the time. Billboards everywhere warn of the disease of the day. Her Gogo goes to a traditional healer when there is trouble, but her mother, who works in another city and is wasting away before their eyes, refuses even to go to the doctor. She is afraid and Khosi doesn't know what it is that makes the blood come up from her choking lungs. Witchcraft? A curse? AIDS? Can Khosi take her to the doctor? Gogo asks. No, says Mama, Khosi must stay in school. Only education will save Khosi and Zi from the poverty and ignorance of the old Zulu ways.School, though, is not bad. There is a boy her own age there, Little Man Ncobo, and she loves the color of his skin, so much darker than her own, and his blue-black lips, but he mocks her when a witch's curse, her mother's wasting sorrow, and a neighbor's accusations send her and Gogo scrambling off to the sangoma's hut in search of a healing potion.J.L. Powers holds an MA in African history from State University of New York-Albany and Stanford University. She won a Fulbright-Hays grant to study Zulu in South Africa, and served as a visiting scholar in Stanford's African Studies Department. This is her second novel for young adults.

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