Monday, September 26, 2016

Suicide Letters by Tammy Ruggles


24076878Suicide Letters by Tammy Ruggles is a collection of stories told in the form of suicide letters. The letters grip the angst of teenage life, remind us how powerful bullying can be, and delve into the pain that teenagers and adults alike hide from one another. At the heart of these stories is the hopelessness that accompanies suicidal ideology and the hope that can come from communication, compassion, and understanding. Ruggles brings the conversation of suicidal thoughts to the forefront in a way that made me grimace as I remembered times in my life when I thought I couldn't handle the pain any longer and that the world would be a better place without me in it. Those moments of connection reminds us that if we bring the conversation out of the whispers we can make a difference in people's lives. Ruggles demonstrates quite effectively the fact that suicidal thoughts and feelings aren't a sign of weakness or giving up, but of needing compassion and understanding. Maybe, just maybe, someone will read Ruggles words and seek help instead of acting on any suicidal thoughts or feelings haunting them.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Holler by Crystal Wilkinson


19279367Holler is first and foremost a story of family. It's about the kind of family that you find in the hollers of Kentucky. People who grow up with a kind of kinship that binds them against outsiders even when it's not necessarily in their best interests. Holler is a multi-layered story that feels simple in the read but hits on myriad and complex emotions throughout. In this short story, Wilkinson deftly immerses the reader in interactions that point out preconceptions about country people, city people, skin color, police officers, and even individuals leading to deeper understanding about how much misunderstanding, hurt, and violence could be avoided with a bit more communication and fewer assumptions.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Willy, The Mighty Oak


24944638Willy, The Mighty Oak: A Short Story by Jaicy Ramsay is the sweet story of an oak tree's life and connection to a family. There's a beauty to the story that nudges one to think about what progress sometimes costs us. In this fable, the oak communicates with a small boy and comforts him after his grandfather dies. In the oak tree, Ramsay demonstrates the strength, understanding, and wisdom of a grandfather as well as the acceptance that many things are beyond one's control.


Note: I read this book as a Kindle book, and it no longer seems to be available via Amazon or elsewhere on the web.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Sequah: An Indian Girl Named Sara by E. Wayne Courtney

Sequah: An Indian Girl Name Sara by E. Wayne Courtney is a story told in poetic verse. The story grips the reader while leading to the occasional squirm and wince. Courtney explores the life of Sequah as the story was told to the family. The story feels as if it mourns a lost history and connection even as it celebrates the very existence of that history. There's a cord that runs through the verses that feels like a reminder that all beings on this Earth are connected.


 

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Higher Authority by Stephen White

Higher Authority by Stephen White is part of his Alan Gregory series, but it focuses on Gregory's fiancĂ©e, Lauren Crowder, more than on Gregory. White weaves together religion and politics into a quilt no one wants to curl up in. With murder and threats of violence lurking around every corner, relationships from the familial to the friendly to the romantic find themselves in jeopardy upping the stakes for the characters. Higher Authority pits morality against politics and religion as it weaves an intriguing story that at times leaves the reader slightly adrift only to pull one back into its murky depths.