People’s prejudices, actions and inactions and how they impact others are the focus of this book of 13 interlocking short stories dealing with issues ranging from racism to differing religious beliefs, politics, the death penalty and even violent rape. The first story opens in Reilly Penitentiary where Warden Summers and inmate Stephen McCaulsey face off over a racial slur. In another story, city newspaper editor Justin is surprised by an angel’s nocturnal visit and the mission to which he is assigned. Other story characters include an impoverished child in Haiti, a Dixie judge tough on crime, and paramedics fighting over religious beliefs to the detriment of a severely injured pregnant woman. As the stories unfold, these characters and others reappear and connect to newly introduced characters in intriguing ways.
Author Jaeson Brunette wrote this book after a near-death experience “in hopes of changing the world.” As such, the stories are modern-day parables reflecting on morals and values and how individual choices can make or break our own lives or the lives of others. While the later stories contain solid elements of conflict, tension, empathy and insight, the opening stories are confusing, as they lack stand-alone interest or the sort of skillful foreshadowing that would hint at why they seem incomplete. The author also misuses some words, for example: “He had seen the sky raining fire below four horsemen perusing through the skies with weapons.”
While some stories in this collection offer credible reason for introspection, the book needs tighter editing, better punctuation and stronger development of the lead-off stories to have an impact.
Also available as an ebook.