Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Firefly Dance by Sarah Addison Allen and others

When I saw that this book contained a story by Sarah Addison Allen, I really wanted to read it. I remember reading and enjoying Garden Spells, which is why I requested this book from NetGalley without knowing anything more than it being a short story collection. The book actually consists of four stories by four authors:

The first, and possible shortest story "The Stocking Store" is by Phyllis Schieber. It deals with a child of Holocaust survivors, but in a very nuanced way. Through an interaction at The Stocking Store (and news of its later closure), this sense of poignancy is imparted. It's very short, but can (and should) definitely be read a few times, because you'll want to savour it. Plus, on the first reading, I only realised that Sonya's mom was a Holocaust survivor, and I think it'll be interesting to read it once without knowing, and once knowing.

"Petey" by Kathry Magendie is the second and possibly the longest short story/novella in the entire book. It's a few chapters long, and spans an amazingly broad time frame. Most of the story is centered just after the move to Texas, and I loved reading about the family dynamics and such. The only thing that confused me was the last chapter, because the switch was way too abrupt for me. I would have preferred (if possible), for the ending to be gentler, because I spent the first part of the chapter wondering if I was still reading the same story (then I recognised the names).

Next is "Resurrection" by Augusta Trobaugh. It's confusing, and I have no idea what it's about. It's supposed to be "surrealistic" but it's also so short that I didn't have enough time to understand what was going on. If a bit more character motivation was explained, then it would have made more sense. Still, it was an interesting read, especially in the beginning, where the scene was set.

Lastly, "In My Dreams" by Sarah Addison Allen. It's a pretty long story (by comparison) and has several different point of views, although the dominant one is the main character of Louise. I felt that Louise was really well-written, and although there's no 'high drama' in the story (none of these stories really do), it was still lovely and engaging. The only "complaint" is the sudden switch in point of view for one chapter, but that was mostly my fault, because I didn't connect the "Sophie" they talked about and "Great Aunt Sophie" together. But other than that, the length was good, because if it was too long, I would have gotten bored unless something major happened. Here, the marriage of Louise's mother and her grandfather's visit was enough to keep me engrossed.

All in all, this is a really lovely short story collection. It's supposed to be about childhood (although I don't recall mine that way, but then again, the distance of time is not that great), and I love how each story writes about childhood in a different way, allowing for a lot of diversity.

Disclaimer: I got this book from NetGalley in exchange for a free and honest review.

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