The Stories That Make Us
The Stories That Make Us is made up of nine compelling short stories. The settings range across Canada, from British Columbia to Newfoundland. The tales cover a range of emotions and topics, such as life, death, fear and coming of age. The author does a wonderful job of creating likeable and memorable characters, often by using just a few descriptive gestures, which brings everything in the story to life. While all of these stories were good, I did have some personal favorites.
“Transactions for Love” really pulled at my heartstrings. As a reader, I felt a sense of loss when Hermes, the cat, left Jess. I also like the transformation, which took place regarding Milan. He starts out as a sinister character but, in the end, he is really something altogether different. He is a tragic figure who has left his war torn country to try and find a better life, only to find that his daughter hasn’t been able to cope with life in her new country. It was heartfelt and tender.
“Wally’s Case of Fear” made me laugh out loud. I can still see Wally hanging off the back of Dale’s van as it speeds down the road. “Spectacular Leo”, which dealt with love, death and loss brought me to tears. It makes one think about finding peace and acceptance. “Left or Right” had a great dark atmospheric feel to it, with an ending I hadn’t seen coming at the outset. It’s the same for “The Longest Serenade”, which was a little melancholy, as Benny, the main character was set to play his end of the year gig. It didn’t, however, turn out as I had imagined. This for me was a good thing, as I like the unexpected developments that often take place at the ends of the stories.
Some of these stories had themes that almost everyone can relate to. For instance, “The Promise,” which follows a boy staying with his grandparent’s at the lake while his father is away, had a nostalgic feel to it. I’m sure I will not be the only reader to think back about times spent at a summer camp or by the lake with other kids we have to leave behind, no doubt hoping we will return one day.
Overall, it is easy to get lost in these stories; sometimes I didn’t want them to end. Each story is an escape to somewhere different and unknown, where there is some kind of discovery at the end. The stories have a depth and feeling to them that make them highly enjoyable. What I like most about many of the stories is that days after having read them the characters and the scenes are still with me.