It's an honor when a writer like Joyce Carol Oates graces the young adult genre with her untouchable talent. Following the success of last year's YA debut, Big Mouth and Ugly Girl, Oates has now given us a collection of 12 short stories, including the classic "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?" as well as new stories such as "Capricorn."

The stories range from rape, murder and suicide to being gay in high school, dealing with a grandparent's disease and finding out the dark secrets of parents. All are centered around teenage girls and their struggle to do the right thing. In the title story, a stranger offers Nancy a ride home. As he walks after her, she's quick to recognize the situation she's about to be in: "I didn't know what he was talking about because I was worried; then I heard his question and said vaguely, 'I'm alright,' and started to walk faster."

Though the dark themes certainly aren't for everyone, there's no denying Oates's masterful storytelling and her precision in showing us awkward, uncomfortable feelings we experience as young women. Not a single word is wasted, and each story will leave you mystified at the world we live in—and Oates's ability to recreate it so accurately. (Mar., 390 pp., $16.99)

Reviewed by: 
Taylor Morris