Unaccompanied Minors: Stories

Taut and fearless, mixing innocence with daring honesty, the stories in Unaccompanied Minors overturn our understanding of what it means to be young. A man on a mission to “save” people finds himself drawn to a brothel; two young women create mayhem in a homeless shelter; a group of Evangelical American teenagers descends on a quiet Costa Rican town; a girl who grows scales no doctor can remedy finds solace in a friendship with a classmate who doesn’t eat. From the wilds of Tennessee to Costa Rica’s gritty capitol city and suburban America, Alden Jones explores the consequences of acting in a world that rarely provides the accompaniment we expect.

“If your only view of teenagers is in some very distant rearview mirror of the mind, then stories like these could make you wistful, particularly if you were wild. If you have, though, forced yourself to stay awake past your middle-aged bedtime and scanned online police reports as your teenager missed curfew, these become cautionary tales. Either way, they’re compelling.” —The Star-Ledger

Awards & Citations

Winner of the New American Fiction Prize
Winner of an Independent Publisher Book Award in Short Fiction
Finalist for the Edmund White Award in Debut Fiction
Finalist for the Lambda Literary Award in LGBT Debut Fiction
A Star-Ledger Top Ten Book of 2014
A Gay&Lesbian Review Great Book of 2014

Unaccompanied Minors is sad and thrilling and most of all true. Alden Jones knows how to make a story sing.”

—Kyle Minor, 2013 New American Fiction Prize Final Judge and author of Praying Drunk

“The seven stories in Unaccompanied Minors crackle with edgy intelligence and dark humor and heart. Alden Jones writes with extraordinary insight about the hungers that drive us into the darkest corners of the self, in voices that are electric and unforgettable. From the first page to the last, Unaccompanied Minors is nothing short of stellar.”

—Laura van den Berg, author of The Isle of Youth

“Alden Jones is a rare and vital new fictional voice, who writes about tough-minded anorexic “rexie” girls who suck gummy worms and hard candies to stave off hunger pain, adolescent prostitutes, psoriasis, homelessness and heartache. Wonder and horror combine in this darkly luminous work.”

—Margaux Fragoso, author of Tiger, Tiger

“Alden Jones is as intrepid a storyteller as she is courageous an observer. These gangs of boys and girls, overgrown teens, misfits, downcasts and family problem kids will fascinate you with their tough talk and suddenly tender ways. Whether selling their bodies in a Costa Rica ghetto or enduring a self-empowering sobriety wilderness jaunt in the American South, Jones’s Unaccompanied Minors form microcosms animated by some of the best dialogue you’re likely to read all year.”

—Edmund White, author of Inside a Pearl

“Voices funny and true, tender and unrelentingly honest; writing that is spectacular without being showy; a scope that encompasses suburban high school lunchrooms, East Coast country clubs, and Central American houses of ill repute. Always, on every page, Unaccompanied Minors gives you young people searching, yearning, trying to find their way. This collection is a treasure.”

—Charles Bock, author of Beautiful Children