Haunting Olivia by Karen Russell
So Karen Russell is the author of a couple huge (critically acclaimed and big selling) short story collections. This is one of her real early short stories and it makes me angry that I have not yet read all of her other stories. It's that good. Sometimes critical darlings just don't appeal to me because their writing is whatever - not my thing or something. This is my thing. I love it.
Story: 10 of 10
This story tells the tale of two brothers, ages 12 and 14, who find a possibly-magical pair of goggles that can see ghost fish underwater. They use them to try and find their dead younger sister. Russell adds life to the characters and their parents and grandmother and her dose of magical reality only adds, never distracts. It's a fantastic piece of storytelling. Also, there is so much that happens in this story that it would take me 1,000 words just to describe it all.
Teachability: 10 of 10 or 2 of 10
I have one class that would eat this up and LOVE it. They're older, intelligent, and fairly whimsical. My other classes just wouldn't get it.
Plusses - 12 year old narrator, compelling adventure story, thematic depth galore .
Minuses - It's just kind of a trip. It's a borderline fairy tale written for adults.