By: Brian Falkner
Genre: YFU - Short stories (Children's/Teenage)
Published by: University of Queensland Press
Published: 03 Jul 2017
ISBN: 9780702259692


A collection of gripping short stories themed around fear and hope written by internationally acclaimed children’s author Brian Falkner.

A boy helps his sister disguise her birthmark on her first day of school. A seventeen-year-old awakens to find himself trapped in an elderly body. A teenage girl discovers her boyfriend has a life-threatening virus the day after they share their first kiss. A high school student tries to communicate to his hospitalised brother who is in a vegetative state.

Brian Falkner serves up bite-sized tales of fear – fear of rejection, fear of dying, fear of disease, fear of the unknown, fear of exclusion, fear of being caught and fear of embarrassment – showing how that stubborn seed of hope hungers our darkest moments.


Brian Falkner has written some incredible short stories with fear as the common thread.

We experience the fear of dying in The Kiss, where the deadly Marburg virus has wiped out much of the world’s population and sixteen year Samanthah (and yes, she has a ‘h’ at the end of her name) decides to risk everything and kiss her boyfriend.

The fear of growing old is confronted in the body swapping story I Am Seventeen.

The fear of rejection and having no friends, set at a religious camp, in Sins and Grief.

But the one that has stayed with me is The Smile. A brilliant young Year 12 student doing first year neuroscience tries to communicate with his brother who, as the result of a motorbike accident, lies in a vegetative state. The results, while great, turn hopeless and truly frightening.

This is a great collection of short stories. I really enjoyed all of these stories, and they will be most enjoyed by those that aren’t afraid of confronting some fears while reading. These stories are great for helping to get more reluctant readers interested as they are all sharp and to the point, they keep you on the edge of your seat, are ideal for all teenagers, and being short stories you can read a complete story very quickly.

Reviewed by Rob