Ford Street Publishing (2012)
Reviewed by Tehani Wessely
Trust Me Too is the second of the Ford Street cross-genre short story anthologies for young people. Featuring around fifty stories (and some poems and graphica), this is a pretty hefty book, but as almost all the pieces are quite short, it’s not too much to handle.
For the most part, I enjoyed almost every story in this quite long collection. Having said that, this is not an adult-aimed short story collection, and interestingly, I think it doesn’t actually target a particular age group exactly. It doesn’t quite fit as middle grade, as some of the material is quite mature, but for the opposite reason, I wouldn’t put it as straight YA either. Instead, it very much straddles upper primary into secondary, which is clever marketing if the publisher is targeting school libraries!
There are a number of “tie-in” short stories here – I caught works that match the novel worlds of Isobelle Carmody, Sean Williams, Paul Collins and George Ivanoff, although there may have been others. None of these would require prior knowledge of the worlds the stories spring from, but this did add an extra fillip of fun to discovery.
Many of the works included weren’t, for me, true short stories – while not badly written, a number of the pieces were character studies, mood pieces, vignettes, or extended jokes. I think that’s okay for the age group, but it didn’t work for me as an adult reader. It would be crazy to try to look at each story individually, but I’d like to mention a few of my favourites.
“Rats” by Jack Heath was one of the stories included that tipped over from middle grade to definite YA in content – creepy and quite scary, this one was altogether rather nasty!
While not a new idea, “The Night Swimmer” by Kirsty Murray was another creepy inclusion that worked really well. I liked the underlying message of sibling affection that ran in the story.
“Stilled Lifes x 11” by Justin D’Ath was one piece that made me really want to go out and read more by the author – I’ve certainly seen D’Ath on the shelves, but hadn’t tried his work. This clever and engaging story really appealed, despite the devastating ending.
I enjoyed many of the tie-in stories to larger universes (some of which I’ve only cursorily dipped into before) – the Isobelle Carmody Obernewtyn prequel story, Sean Williams’ Broken Lands piece and George Ivanoff’s Gamer’s series work were all interesting to read, and while I am always a bit wary when editors include their own story in an anthology, Paul Collins’ Jelindel story was good too.
Altogether, Trust Me Too is an extensive collection that includes many of Australia’s top authors, and which will, no doubt, do well in school libraries.