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Calling You    by Otsu-ichi order for
Calling You
by Otsu-ichi
Order:  USA  Can
TOKYOPOP, 2007 (2007)
* * *   Reviewed by Ricki Marking-Camuto

Otsu-ichi's Calling You is a collection of three short stories that all deal with loss and learning. While they're bitter-sweet, each story is life-affirming, but never preachy.

The story for which the novel is named, is about a lonely girl who dreams of having a cell phone like all the others in her class. She dreams about it so much that it becomes real in her mind, even allowing her to have conversations. Talking on her imaginary cell allows her to eventually come out of her shell, which help her to move on after a tragic loss. The middle story, Kids/Kiz, involves two kids who are stuck in the special needs class at their school for different reasons: the taller one fights and is abused by his father while the shorter one has been passed between foster homes after his mother murdered his father and then tried to stab him. They become friends and learn that one has a mysterious secret: he can transfer injuries to his body and then to someone else. However, when the secret becomes too much, they learn that sharing the burden can lead to a better life for both of them. Finally, Flower Song, is a little more grown-up than the other two. In it, a patient in a mental hospital finds a flower with a girl's face that hums a lullaby and, with the help of two roommates, nurtures it until it is ready to wither away. The three find out who the flower is and decide she must be returned home. The story ends with a slight twist that changes the way it is viewed.

All three stories in Calling You are beautifully written as the almost poetic words take on a life of their own. Otsu-ichi's prose is simply magical, making the reader believe that these fantastic stories really could happen. The tale that impressed me most was Flower Song which, to me, seemed on par with many of the short stories I had to read in my college-credit intro to literature course. It had all the elements that make a good story, plus there's a quality about it that makes it stick with you long after you put it down. While most of Tokyopop's Pop Fiction imprint is aimed at young adults, Otsu-ichi's Calling You will resonate with readers of all ages.

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