Customer Reviews: 13: Thirteen Stories That Capture the Agony and Ecstasy of Being Thirteen
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on October 24, 2003
This is a fine collection of stories that most 13 year olds would find enjoyable. All are contemporary realistic fiction, save the last (see below), and there is one poem. The first story, Bruce Coville's "What's the Worst that Could Happen" is very funny and worth the purchase price alone. That the protagonists are all teens fits the reading proclivities of many adolescents.

There are several stories that deal with teen romance/crushes, but always in appropriate and respectfull ways, and there is usually some other theme going on (friendship can be difficult, family isn't always what you want, etc.) A couple of the pieces have Gay-possitive elements.
The final story, Ann M. Martin and Laura Goodwin's "Tina the Teen Fairy" would be an excellent read-aloud for the first week of middle school, as it follows a fairy who must convince a girl that turning 13 is important. As a 7/8 grade teacher, I've already used a few of these pieces in class.
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on July 26, 2004
Author Sandra Cisneros expressed in her story "Eleven" that when you are eleven years old, you are also ten, nine and eight, and so forth. Thirteen is no different. When you're thirteen, you're also twelve, eleven and ten, yet you're expected --- and even want --- to be fourteen, fifteen and sixteen. Being thirteen is a time of confusion and sometimes anger, but it's also a time of hope and wonder, and a chance to start exploring who you are and what you want to become.

Twelve authors and one poet, including teen fiction luminaries like Ron Koertge and Ellen Wittlinger, share thirteen stories that range from humorous to heartbreaking, all about the joy --- or the lack thereof --- of being thirteen years old. In Ann Martin and Laura Godwin's "Tina the Teen Fairy," a fairy visits Maia, who wants nothing more in life than not to turn thirteen, on the evening before her birthday. James Howe explores what a bar mitzvah means to one boy in "Jeremy Goldblatt is So Not Moses." As these authors show, it doesn't matter whether you're rich or poor, male or female, urban or rural --- there are some things about being thirteen that no one can escape.

13 is not a survival guide to anyone's thirteenth year; rather, it is a compilation of thoughts, memories and feelings that each author contributes to the reader. Instead of trying to guide the reader, these stories serve as sympathy and example. It is a collection anyone can enjoy, whether he/she is 13, 23 or 53.

--- Reviewed by Carlie Kraft Webber
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on February 28, 2010
This is a fairly good collection of short stories. Good short story collections for teens are difficult to find (I'm a HS English teacher), and I definitely used this in the classroom.

A few drawbacks, though. First of all, the cover is a bit misleading, as it shows a male teen on the cover, but in fact very few of the stories feature male protagonists. So yes, there are more female writers writing about teen girls in this book, but disappointingly, even the stories written by male authors feature female protagonists! Given that teen boys tend to be the reluctant readers, this imbalance does not help. Even more frustrating, one of the few stories that does have a male protagonist is chiefly about that protagonist's struggles with perhaps being gay.
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on September 17, 2006
My son is in 8th grade and never a big reader (which I am trying to change). This book appealled to him on two levels. First, the short story format was less "stressful" than having to commit to a full length book. Second, the variety of stories has something for everyone. Some stories he identified with personally and others he felt helped him understand someone his age with a different background. There was also a mix of humor and seriousness that he really enjoyed. We both reccommend this book heartily.
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on April 4, 2004
"13: Thirteen Stories That Capture the Agony and Ecstasy of Being Thirteen" is an engrossing, and often quite accurate, collection of short stories centering on different thirteen-year-olds. Although some stories focus less on actually being thirteen than they do on simply revolving around a 13-year-old character, it doesn't matter - it's still a wholly entertaining read. A few stories of note:
"What's The Worst That Could Happen" by Bruce Coville - a funny but mostly painful tale of embarrassment that is bound to make the reader squirm at least once or twice.
"Squid Girl" by Todd Strasser - a fascinating (and very funny) story about a girl who meets a boy while on vacation, told from an idiosyncratic second-person point of view.
"Noodle Soup for Nincompoops" by Ellen Wittlinger - the story of a shy sideline-sitter who is able to express herself for the first time in the kooky guise of an anonymous advice columnist for her school paper.
Other popular authors whose pieces are included in this compendium include Meg Cabot ("The Princess Diaries," "All-American Girl," etc.), Ann M. Martin ("The Baby-Sitters Club" series, etc.), and James Howe ("Bunnicula," etc.) who also served as editor for this collection. I personally think this book will be enjoyed by readers of all ages - those who have already been thirteen, those who are not thirteen yet, and those who are thirteen right now.
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on July 16, 2004
This is an awesome book that describes exquisitly what it is like to be thirteen. Every thirteen year old can probably relate to some small part of one of the stories (at least). When I read it, I knew some of the authors who had collaborated to write the short stories in this neat book, but I also did not know a few of the other authors. It was nice to read the works of familiar authors and at the same time be introduced to a variety of new ones!
Another wonderful aspect of this book are the essays at the end of each story that explain how the fictional tale is based on an experiance the author had at the age of thirteen!
"Thirteen" has a great store of emotion, too. Not just sad, happy, angry, but utterly miserable, ecstatic, irrate, hilarious. All the emotions that you experiance as a teen.
The writing styles are also great! Many stories are written in the first person, some are written in the third person, and one story is even written in the second person!
"Thirteen" is a totaly great book to read!
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on January 8, 2006
13 is exactly what the subtitle says it is about. It capture the agony and ecstasy of being thirteen more than any other book i have read. But, then again, I havn't read any other books about being 13 years old. Anyways, 13 is a great book. It is a quick read but you will find yourself having problems putting it down. I recomended this book for anyone. If your past the age of 13 you can relate to it, if not, you can find out what 13 is all about. All in all, 13 is PRETTY DARN GOOD.
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on August 11, 2014
I read this with my son when he turned 13. It was a great book to open up conversations about a wide range of subjects. Because discussions were about stories (not about my son,) it was a non-threatening way that I was able to get to know him & learn about the way he sees and feels.
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on February 6, 2009
He could not put it down. He is going thru the horrible hormone stage and I think he really related to the stories. I think he knows now that what he is going through (puberty) is a normal stage of growing up and that he is not alone. I also wrote him a little note inside that if he ever needs to talk about anything that he can't talk to his parents about, he can count on me.

There are a couple of homosexual stories in the book and Although my nephew is not gay, I believe they will teach acceptance and understanding that everyone is different and everyone's feeling should be considered.
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on April 24, 2009
THis book is a good book to read. This book was about how kids are no longer kids and start being teenagers. Kids at 13 start having Boyfriends/Girlfriends, and start having alot of drama in 7th & 8th grade. Kids who turn 13 they think they have to be tough because they're not kids any more. I rate this book a 5 because it was really cool to read and enjoy.
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