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Young Adult Collection

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The Young Adult Collection by Jack Karolewski is a good starting place for a promising writer with lots of room for growth.

The Young Adult Collection by Jack Karolewski is a good starting place for a prolific promising writer. However, short stories are very difficult to write.   I feel this would be better marketed as middle-grade fiction.


The challenge in short stories is to drive the narrative like a race car through tight curves.¬†Character arc and turning point have to move quickly and close fast.¬†It is a challenge for writers at any stage of their careers, and Karolewski gave himself a tall order. The stories are more like snapshots because the structure has not been defined, and the conclusions are left open-ended. In the story ‚ÄúOne for Mars,‚ÄĚ Karolewski ends the story with, ‚Äúsomething touched his shoulder from behind.‚ÄĚ ¬†We never know what touched him, and yes, I understand that an argument can be made that leaving it open was purposely constructed to inspire the reader's imagination. Still, a writer is not here to force the reader to use their imagination and search for an ending. ¬†The line ‚Äúsomething touched his shoulder from behind‚ÄĚ should have begun the story, not ended it.¬†‚ÄúPassenger 39-C,‚ÄĚ has the same flaw. A passenger is seated behind a man who draws a picture of the plane crashing as the plane they are in also begins to crash. ¬†It is inferred that the man is something otherworldly, and the author asks the questions; Who was he? Where was he from? ¬†¬†It is the author‚Äôs job to solve this mystery. I am a reader; I want to know those things. It is never a good idea for writers to ask readers‚Äô questions they cannot answer.

Kaarolewski jumps from first person to third effectively in his collection. ¬†It is risky to change narrative perspective in a novel or collections of short stories, but you can get away with it with a certain amount of skill, and Karolewski does both equally well.¬†¬†The story ‚ÄúFlorida Redemption‚ÄĚ is first-person, and so is ‚ÄúGuardian,‚ÄĚ which asks a lot of questions about a guy who hitchhikes to Florida. But after a series of odd encounters and great physical discomfort he returns home with a new perspective on life.


The story I liked the most was ‚ÄúGold Mountain.‚ÄĚ It is about a Chinese man named Wu Chen who comes to America in 1849 just in time for the Gold Rush in California. I thought Karolewski managed to capture some of the hardships, racism and horrible struggles that this population experienced. Good job! They¬†¬†built the railroads, lost their lives blasting rock out of mountains, and ¬†changed the complexion of America.¬†A short novel could most certainly be teased out of it.

I enjoyed the pacing ¬†in ‚ÄúHouse of Horrors,‚ÄĚ ‚ÄúThe Colonizers,‚ÄĚ and ‚ÄúDark Side.‚ÄĚ


Karolwski has one of the most important things a writer can have, and that’s imagination. That is why this book is rated at a 3 as opposed to a 2. These are promising stories but badly in need of character arc. At this point, more work needs to be done. Each story could be an idea for a novel or script, and the potential is there. I felt so honored to read the work of such a committed  writer.  And if you are a reader who likes to follow new talent, Karolewski is an author with whom you can begin a journey.


Just remember… all books are good books but not all books are for all people. (Karina Holosko)

Reviewed by

I have an M.A in Eng Lit, a member of the Society of Professional Journalists and the National Writers Union. I like defined character archs and plot structures. You will receive a honest review. "We are not here to race one another to the top but to keep others from falling down." Kayhallny@gmail

ONE FOR MARS

About the author

Retired in 2005 after a thirty-year teaching career, I am now a part-time reference librarian and active community volunteer. Married since 1983, one daughter. I have two graduate degrees in history, and have visited 114 countries so far, as well as all fifty states. I specialize in short stories. view profile

Published on December 20, 2020

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40000 words

Genre: Short Story

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