I have been speaking to many people about this book over the last few days. I don't always do that, talk to people about what I'm reading, unless people ask me. There are few books that demand my attention and require me to spread their story to others around me. It's like when I started Hunger Games or Why We Broke Up. Those stories gave me no choice but to go to all of my friends and say, unasked and possibly unwanted, "Have you heard of this book? You NEED to read it." When I told my co-worker that I had finally finished the book, she asked what I thought. I replied simply and truthfully: My emotions hurt.
If I loved you, I would tell you this is a collection of ten short stories that Robin Black says took her nearly 8 years to write. Before they were a book, she tells us in the Acknowledgements, they existed individually in various literary journals. On their own, they are beautiful; in a bound collection, they are haunting. That doesn't even come close to describing the book, really.
Perhaps this is a better way to describe the book:
What makes this such an exquisite collection is the way Robin Black brings unpredictable elements into the emotional lives of her characters, creating that special kind of literary magic where a reader experiences everything right alongside them and it all feels new. -- Hanna TintiI'm sitting here, typing and re-typing, erasing and re-writing the same sentence in an attempt to properly describe this book. It's the story of love and loss, of joy and deep hurt. It hits and resurfaces emotions you didn't remember you had or tried so hard to forget. It is story of a father and his blind daughter trying to overcome the boundaries caused by her blindness, only to find that they seem to communicate more with what is left unsaid rather than unseen. It is the unsent letter of a woman with cancer to her uncaring neighbor who is disputing property boundary lines at the worst of times. She is shocked not by his actions, but with the total and complete disregard of common sense manners. Had he been kinder, maybe she would have explained their situation; as it was, she kept the situation to herself and tried to politely argue the age old lines that had been honored for years before the young man moved in next door.
I will tell you this: it put me in a funk. I have been in a weird place, emotionally, for the week and I think I will need to blame the book. Not a "shame one you!" kind of blame. Just a "huh, well at least there is an explanation" kind of blame.
Don't let me talk you out of reading this book, though. I promise, it's worth it.