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Get in Trouble, Golden State, Sexting Panic 

Short Stories

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Get in Trouble

Kelly Link

Random House, $25/hardcover

Kelly Link is best known for her outstanding young adult fiction (Pretty Monsters, for instance), but in Get in Trouble: Stories, her first book for adults in a decade, she brings the fantastical and odd into clear focus. Oh, hell, she just plain brings it. There's a convention of superheroes where a runaway from Iowa plans to meet a guy from online; a pair of drunks at an abandoned theme park that provides a decaying Oz backdrop, yellow brick road and all; and a woman married to an alien, though her real problem is sleeping sickness. Not all the stories have supernatural connections, but there's a certain fascination with the unusual that hits close to the original meaning of the word "awesome," in that the oddness — or even the normalcy — of the situation is secondary to the emotional and psychological reality of life. Certainly one of the best books of the winter, Get in Trouble will make short work of long nights. — Kel Munger

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Golden State

Stephanie Kegan

Simon & Schuster, $25/hardcover

A novel of family heartbreak, Golden State: A Novel by Stephanie Kegan is based on the real-life story of David Kaczynski, who made the painful decision to call the FBI when he recognized the writing style of his brother, Ted, in the public manifesto of the Unabomber. The heroine, Natalie Askedahl, is living the California life, estranged from her hippie sister and her brooding, once-promising mathematician brother, Bobby. But upon reading a letter Bobby sent to her mother, Natalie recognizes the language of the "Cal Bomber," who has been sending letter bombs to prominent university professors. When she goes to the authorities, the resulting firestorm unearths fault-lines in the family and leads Natalie to be concerned for her own intellectually gifted daughter. The most interesting theme — untreated mental illness due to family pride — is fully explored, but the class issues raised could have been more fully developed. — Kel Munger

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Sexting Panic

Amy Adele Hasinoff

University of Illinois Press, release date Feb. 28

The furor among otherwise sane adults about teens "sexting" — sending sexually explicit textual messages — is yet another sign that everyone gets old. After all, the parents of today's "sexting" teens were the subject of similar moral panic from their own parents two decades ago, when the stories were about teen "sex parties" and the sexual codes on those old rubber bracelets kids wore. What is different is the criminalization of any communication involving both minors and sex; in today's "zero tolerance" climate, kids can face child sexual abuse or child pornography charges for consensual exchanges. In Sexting Panic: Rethinking Criminalization, Privacy, and Consent, Amy Adele Hasinoff documents the change in perception and argues that, if there's no harm or privacy violation, then "sexting" should be treated as adolescent experimentation. Her book is a dose of well-researched common sense and sanity, the likes of which we all need. — Kel Munger

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