“What hunting takes place in “Written in the Stars” is entirely of the romantic sort—vividly, captivatingly so—set in a long-ago postwar world when teenagers said things like “golly” and “gee whiz.” This volume collects for the first time early stories penned by the prolific Lois Duncan, who will turn 80 later this month. Her best-known works include the humorously insightful “Hotel for Dogs” (1971) and the teen suspense novel “I Know What You Did Last Summer” (1973).
What makes “Written in the Stars” striking and quite wonderful is the ease and sagacity with which Ms. Duncan writes about adolescence (at an astonishingly young authorial age) and the emotional resonance she creates with characters we will know only briefly—for such is the nature of short stories. Here, for instance, a girl remembers what life was like before she discovered boys: “She thought of . . . the long, golden summer stretching behind her, free of twisting little jealousies and tears, free of sudden sweet joy, free of agonizing moments of heartbreak that come so easily at fifteen and last such a short time and yet fill the world so completely while they last.” When Ms. Duncan wrote these wise words, she was just 15 herself.