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2013 Story 133

Back on track to actually post one story review a day? We'll see. We'll see. EDIT TO CORRECT NUMBERING. I'm still 10 days behind (mis-numbered as 143 when I posted it originally).

133. PASSING EACH OTHER IN HALLS by Matt de la Pena, from One Teen Story Vol. 1, Issue VI (February 10, 2013) What struck me immediately about this story was the voice. de la Pena's narrator speaks in a south Los Angeles parlance that is recognizable but not over-played; there is just enough of the "urban posturing" without feeling stereotypical or played for effect. The narrator is a teen whose father is dying, whose girlfriend has just broken up with him long-distance, and whose best friend has just bashed him in the face with an elbow during a basketball game. He brings all of this baggage to a bar using a fake id, meets a girl, and experiences an epiphany.  In other hands, the story could be a pile of cliches which ultimately goes nowhere, but de la Pena pitches the story just right, and doesn't overplay the big moment at the end. The final moment feels a bit predictable once you're in it, but the lead-up and smaller challenges feel fresh and vibrant.

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