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ten teenagers --- Nicole, Maria, Kelly, Derik, Sadie, Robby, Mearl,
Ginger, Joy and Sean --- a single day (August 12th) can bring
life-altering experiences. In this collection of short stories,
each personality is explored through a story. While only some of
the characters know each other, their actions seem to have a domino
effect, so that eventually they have --- knowingly or not ---
touched each other's lives. The best way to talk about BLEED is to
introduce some of its characters:

Maria - It's been a little goal of mine this past year
--- to get all my friends to cut me
... Cutting is a comfort to
Maria. Sometimes she cuts herself, but she really gets off on
having her friends mark her. Some like it and some don't, but to
let her stress out, she has to see that her blood is really red.
Maria doesn't know who her dad was (and neither does her mom) ---
only that he was all chocolate and now Maria has his skin, unlike
her mother's pale white. And there's "Uncle Luke," who lives with
her mom. Maria and Uncle Luke have a kind of understanding between
them; he doesn't actually touch her, but he likes to watch and then
gives her money. Well, why not? She isn't worth much anyway. She's
not even sure if her friend Nicole is really her friend. They were
supposed to meet and plan a welcome home party for Kelly, but
Nicole has not called her back. Now what does that mean?

Kelly - There's nothing that will stop Kelly from meeting
Robby. They've been corresponding for over five years. Kelly has
arranged to go out to see her dad in the Santa Cruz area, a perfect
excuse and even more perfect for the first meeting with Robby. Yes,
he killed his girlfriend, but that was (like he told her) just an
unfortunate accident. She can tell Robby anything and he
understands. He understands more than her mother and even makes her
feel like a poet. She loves to write poetry. He has asked her to
wear special panties and a bra, and she's so excited about this.
It's her life; she can make these kinds of decisions. She knows he
was just mixed up, but he's served his time. Her boyfriend Sean is
nice, but there's something so mysterious about Robby that she
can't help herself.

Mearl - On her to-do list of life, Mearl has three major
objectives: to save someone's life, to settle down and grow a
garden, and to have a great sexual relationship with a boy she
loves. It sounds simple enough, but Mearl is anything but sure of
herself. Maybe she's just too different: Why am I so drawn to
the moon? Where did I get this jet-black hair, like a raven's
wings? How come the tips of my upper eyelashes curl downward
instead of upward?

Mearl likes to read auras; she's interested in palm reading and
astrology. She feels the forces around her as her life is swept
into the paths of others. She can have sex anytime and just move on
--- she can find her own way. Still, she feels like an empty slate
waiting for something to be written on it. She is in the graveyard
visiting with the spirits one day and sees a girl about her age.
She notices that her arms are all scratched and that dried blood
criss-crosses them. Mearl meets Maria. Is this a life she can

Sean - His girlfriend, Kelly, is out of town and here's
Nicole. He's really trying not to think about Nicole. How is it
that she has changed so much? Didn't she used to be kind of nerdy
and gawky, but now... well, she's pretty. She's not only pretty,
but she really likes Sean. He can tell by the way she looks at him
--- and she looks at him a lot. Kelly is due home soon and he's
been good. He knows Nicole and her friends want to have a welcome
home party, so that's another reason to talk with Nicole. Today she
invited him for a swim and it's a hot day. Maybe he can go over
there and cool off...or will he just get hotter? Guess there's only
one way to find out, isn't there?

The reader is swept along in this masterful plotting of characters
as their lives intertwine in most unexpected ways. Laurie Faria
Stolarz has captured perfectly the angst and folly of the teenage
world. BLEED will be a wonderful addition to high school and public
library short story collections.


Reviewed by Sally M. Tibbetts on October 18, 2011

by Laurie Faria Stolarz

  • Publication Date: September 1, 2006
  • Genres: Fiction, Short Stories
  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Hyperion
  • ISBN-10: 078683854X
  • ISBN-13: 9780786838547