As a reader and reviewer of young adult books, I’ve mostly focused on novels, but there are also young adult stories. They haven’t typically been my forte, but I’ve learned to appreciate short stories from a creative writing class and from being an undergraduate reader for Blue Mesa Review. This has gotten me thinking about that I haven’t seen much talk in YA book blogging or YA BookTube about literary magazines, particularly ones that publish YA short stories. Except for Teen Ink, I haven’t known of any literary magazines that publish YA short stories, so I started a search.
First, I want to briefly mention why literary magazines are important. Literary magazines give writers a chance to publish their works in shorter forms, and they shine a spotlight on great writing from writers of various experience levels. These writers often go on to write longer works. While shining that light on newer writers or experimental writing, these magazines provide new life to literature and people’s lives. They also build community. If you would like to know more about why you should read literary magazines, you can look at these articles:
- 20 Reasons Why You Should Read Literary Magazines
- The Persistence of Litmags
- What Do Editors Say to People Who Don’t Read Literary Journals?
In my six years of reading and blogging about young adult books, I never sat down to read any kind of literary magazine that featured young adult stories, except for Teen Ink. For this post, I decided to follow one person’s recommendations for YA literary magazines, and I found Allie Bushman.
Allie Bushman made a list of YA literary magazines to submit work to on The Lab Review Blog. I followed her recommendations and read two selections from the listed magazines. I narrowed the list to the journals I could access for free. One Teen Story requires a subscription, and Suddenly Lost in Words and Soundings Review do not seem to have up-to-date websites anymore. This left YARN, Hunger Mountain, Lunch Ticket, and Cicada.
Below you will find short reviews of selected writings from each of these journals.
Also known as the Young Adult Review Network, this journal publishes short stories, essays and poems for a young adult audience. Since this journal does identify all of its content as for a young adult audience, I will look at one short story and one essay.
“The Fish Suicide” by Michelle Secunda
Seriously, the title tells you the premise. A fish commits suicide, driving two people together who broke up a while ago. I like how this shows leftover hurt from the relationship, and I sympathize with Robbie, the narrator. I’m not sure that it’s resolved, but it’s an almost funny way to bring two people who have fought into another confrontation.
“Letters to Frida” by Ana Santos
In this #ownvoices essay, the author writes letters in response to various quotes by Frida Kahlo. Each letter responds to an idea in the quote, and I like how revealing it is. I like how a young girl’s idol can make her reflective on her own life and experiences. This is different in the way of essays, but I enjoyed it.
Hunger Mountain publishes the usual literary genres as well as children’s and young adult literature. The two stories I read from this magazine were winners of the 2017 Katherine Paterson Prize for Young Adult and Children’s Literature.
“Do Not Go Gently” by Mindy McGinnis
This story features a couple of days in the life of one teen mom. It compares the realities of her job with the realities of her home life. It also seems to argue against Dylan Thomas’s “Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night,” if I’m correctly reading the story as intertextual to the poem. I want to read “Do Not Go Gently” a few more times, and I recommend that you read it.
“The Carrying Beam” by S.M. Mack
Set in 1925 Nepal, this story starts with a funeral. Dorje does all she can to hide and stop her mother from performing witchcraft. I’m not sure how I feel about Dorje’s character development because I’m not sure what makes her become what she is at the end.
Website | Winter/Spring 2018
Lunch Ticket has a mission of providing cutting edge literary works and starting conversations about social justice and underserved communities. The Winter/Spring 2018 issue has only fiction and poetry under the Writing for Young People category, so I’ve only selected a couple of short stories.
“The Scent of Laila Thorinson” by Jeune Ji
A student at Longman, Jacie, has been assigned this popular girl, Laila Thorinson, as the recipient of her $10-or-less Secret Santa gift. She finds out that Laila has been involved in some questionable activities, so Jacie commits a crime to impress her. I think this is a good example of character development, but it was a little hard for me to follow her interactions with and about Laila.
“Creeping Jenny” by Noah Weisz
I’m not sure whether this should be classified as magical realism or fantasy, but it satisfies my love of magical elements. It starts with Erica’s mother being upset about their creeping jenny getting stolen, and she remembers her grandmother’s love of plants. Then a boy at her school unnerves her. I love the clash of realizing one’s destiny and choosing what one wants.
Website | Vol. 19 Num. 3 “The Deep”
CICADA describes itself as a magazine that explores and celebrates the truths of teens. This sample issue of the magazine is themed around The Deep, and it explores what could be in it. I picked a short story and a comic in this one, but the poems are great too.
“Your New Voice and You” by Rene Sears
Several of the stories I read in this issue have second person narration, but this one does well with it. Following the theme of the issue, the story is about mermaids, but it retells one of the most famous mermaid fairy tales from the perspective of the villain. I felt for the villain named You, and it gave a reason for what she does. This was fun to read.
“There’s a Blob in the Attic” by Becca Tobin
This is a comic about a blob that shows futures. It’s a little scary with the image choices and its hypnotic effects on the characters, but the point of the story is unclear to me. The artwork is heavy and dark, and it feels a little disorganized. The story ends in a way that should be horrifying, but I am not sure what the takeaway should be.
I found stories that I loved and some that were okay. I found a lot of stories that I haven’t seen representation of in YA novels, and I think that is an important takeaway. You should read literary magazines because you will find stories you might not read anywhere else.
Do you read literary magazines? Have you read any good short stories lately?
Bushman, Allie. “Looking for YA Literary Magazines? Read On!” The Lab Review Blog, Columbia College Chicago, 16 Dec. 2015, www.blogs.colum.edu/lab-review/2015/12/16/looking-for-ya-literary-magazines-read-on/.
Ji, Jeune. “The Scent of Laila Thorinson.” Lunch Ticket, Antioch University, Winter/Spring 2018, www.lunchticket.org/scent-laila-thorinson/.
Mack, S.M. “The Carrying Beam.” Hunger Mountain, Vermont College of Fine Arts, 20 Nov. 2017, www.hungermtn.org/the-carrying-beam/.
McGinnis, Mindy. “Do Not Go Gently.” Hunger Mountain, Vermont College of Fine Arts, 25 Oct. 2017, www.hungermtn.org/not-go-gently/.
Santos, Ana. “Letters to Frida.” YARN, 9 Jul. 2017, www.yareview.net/2017/07/letters-to-frida/.
Sears, Rene. “Your New Voice and You.” CICADA, vol. 19, no. 3, Cricket Media, 17 Jul. 2017, www.preview.shorthand.com/nkjK9vU5Qa.
Secunda, Michelle. “The Fish Suicide.” YARN, 23 May 2018, www.yareview.net/2018/05/the-fish-suicide/.
Tobin, Becca. “There’s a Blob in the Attic.” CICADA, vol. 19, no. 3, Cricket Media, 20 Jul. 2017, www.cicadamag.s3.amazonaws.com/cic1701_TheresBlobInAttic/index.html.
Weisz, Noah. “Creeping Jenny.” Lunch Ticket, Antioch University, Winter/Spring 2018, www.lunchticket.org/creeping-jenny/.