It's surprising no one has done this yet: a collection of short stories about that wonderful, horrible, defining age in our lives when we gain a new step of independence but are still trying to figure ourselves out. That would be 16, and McCafferty, bestselling author of Sloppy Firsts and Second Helpings, has assembled some of the best young adult writers today to write about that year.

Contributions come from well-known authors such as Sarah Dessen ("Infinity"), Sonya Sones ("Cat Got Your Tongue?") and Zoe Trope ("Relent/Persist"), among many, many others.

In these stories you can expect to find love, friendship, angst, boys, girls, sex, questions, possibilities…on and on. Each writer puts his or her own spin on the age. Trope tells her story, "Relent/Persist," in e-mails and IMs; Cat Bauer's "Venetian Fan" offers a twist on the first kiss; and Carolyn Mackler's "Mona Lisa, Jesus, Chad and Me," delivers a moving story about religion and friends. Finally, McCafferty puts in one of her own, and fans of her Jessica Darling series will be ecstatic to know she's written a mini-prequel in the short story, "Fifteen Going on… ."

These stories are top-notch and will be loved by anyone about to be 16, who is 16 or who once survived being 16. (Jun., 336 pp., $10.95)

Reviewed by: 
Taylor Morris