This review is published on Reedsy/Discovery.
Each of the eight short stories touch on the complexity of familial relationships. The main characters vary by age, gender and role within the family. The commonality is the emotional roller coaster they work through as they try to reconcile expectations with their own reality.
The third-person perspective challenges the reader to consider conflicts from varying viewpoints. It is an opportunity to hover over each character separately, and develop an understanding of their actions, motives and decisions. In “Missed Moments,” I felt sorry for Clara, a 9-year-old child with a single, hard-working mother, Kim. But my empathy shifted to Kim as I learned more about her.
“Sullen Eyes” was written in the first-person perspective. Karrie is a behavioral analyst, observing a father-daughter relationship, which Karrie interprets as a hindrance to the progress of Margot, a 5-year-old autistic child. For this story, writing in the first person makes sense because Karrie is outside the family, looking in. We want to see the dynamic from her vantage point.
The author has a talent for beginning a story with a captivating statement and then gradually revealing the landscape. “Bad Badhaus” begins with the statement, “Everyone else was grieving but Jeremy couldn’t help but feel a sense of relief.” I immediately wanted to know more. As the drama of each tale unfolded, I was drawn into every word, anticipating which of the potential pathways the characters would choose to embark. The endings surprised me but felt right.
The characters are multidimensional. There are no good guys and bad guys. They are all a product of their experiences. The reader is not served perfectly happy endings but rather food for thought. I enjoyed every one of the stories and highly recommend this book. The narration is relatable and reminds us to reserve judgment as there may be an underlying story yet to be told.