Format: PDF galley
Length: 202 pages
Publisher: She Writes Press
Source: TLC Book Tours
You know the Dugans. They’re that scrappy family that lives down the street. Their yard is overgrown, they don’t pick up after their dog, their five children run free – leaving chaos in their wake – and the father hasn’t earned a cent in years. The wife holds them together on her income alone. You wouldn’t want them for neighbors – but from a distance, their quite entertaining.
Of course, alcohol is an issue. You can tell from the empty bottles lying under the bush out front. You can hardly blame the wife for leaving one day. Without her at the helm, the rest carry on the best they can.
Their strong sense of family keeps them going. They help each other, and in some cases, rescue each other. They struggle for a better life. While they never follow the rules, or completely conquer adversity, they stare it down, meet their challenges, and earn some much needed respect. They might even make you proud.
Set in the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York, the twelve linked stories in Our Love Could Light The World depict a dysfunctional family that’s messy and rude, cruel and kind, and loyal to the end.
Here’s what I thought:
My post is a little bit late today because I stayed up last night finishing this book, which was a pleasure. I don’t know exactly why, but I find myself really drawn to short stories lately. The format definitely fits my attention span (ha), but I also get satisfaction from the way short stories take all the elements of fiction and distill them down to a pure form that is concise and often surprisingly beautiful. Short stories don’t have the leisure of the slow build of the novel–they have to grab you fast and hard.
This collection by Anne Leigh Parish centers on the Dugans, a family that in many ways is very average. There are five school-age children, an out-of-work, kindly but alcoholic father, and a working mother who is trying to hold it all together. The stories span a period of about ten years from the first to the last, so we see the way things progress for the Dugans over time. Even as they each grow and change, making choices that sometimes pull them in different directions, they nevertheless remain connected in ways that keep them a family, albeit a dysfunctional one.
I particularly enjoyed the character of Angie, who goes through a difficult adolescence but manages to find herself by remaining true to her strengths, including an empathetic nature and a good judgement of character. All of the characters are multi-layered and feel like real people, and I also liked the portrayal of the father, Potter, who manages to avoid being a cliché through his evolution over the course of the book.
Recommended for those who enjoy stories centered on issues of family and character growth.
Thanks to TLC Book Tours for providing me with a copy of this book and giving me a chance to share my review.
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