In this book of 11 compelling short stories, the author writes about human nature and how a person’s need for love can lead him or her to make questionable choices.
Thematically the stories have similarities but no two are alike. In one, a ballet critic whose brief infatuation with a ballerina who is a Russian defector inadvertently betrays his long-time friend. In another, a disgraced lawyer falls in love with a rich, charming man, unwilling to see his real motives through her own romantic haze. In a third, a group of college kids in the free-wheeling early ‘70s must live with the unexpected consequences of the Vietnam draft lottery.
V.S. Kemanis is a strong writer, clearly drawing from her experiences as a former prosecutor and ballet dance aficionado. Readers will find her characters highly relatable, as she recounts situations that many have experienced in some way, such as a young jury member who refuses to be bullied into convicting a man just because others on the jury want to go home. Or, an older woman who leaves her long-time marriage after a lifetime of annoyances such as the way her husband rattles a bag of cheese popcorn while looking for kernels at the bottom. Or, the conference attendee who is talking to acquaintances from conferences past, only to find herself left behind as everyone takes a seat in the crowded dining room. “At the threshold, my conversation buddies abandon me for saved spots, leaving me with a smile plastered on my face.”
Although the characters here vary in age, the book would be most suited to somewhat older readers—those who know something about shame, guilt, love and the ethical choices one faces every day. And because many of the stories’ endings are ambiguous, they would make excellent fodder for book club discussion. But any reader with a love of fine writing in short story format should find pieces to savor among these well-written offerings.
Also available as an ebook.