Anthologies are both very hard to review and very easy. Hard because you almost can't review it as one entity- or at least, you can only review it for a sentence or two as one entity. And easy because you have a very set outline to work with, and it's pretty easy to keep track of your thoughts while reading, which I did. (I won't lie, it made me feel like a super organized blogger, which we all know to be false, but it was fun for a few days.)
I figure first I will go through the stories individually, then I will sum it all up. Good? Good. Oh, and these are also going to be weird because I don't want to give much away about any of the stories, since they are short. Expect vagueness.
Story #1: Three Imaginary Conversations with You by Heather Demetrios
This is a fabulous way to start things off. It also sets a very high standard. First, Heather Demetrios has such a gorgeous writing style, it would be hard not to fall in love. I was blown away by how connected I was to the narrator in less than thirty pages. I felt her struggle because the story was so, so plausible, and I know that many women of all ages have gone through the same thing- many women that I know personally even. Heather's story sets the book off on a hugely relatable and moving note, and I just flew through her story.
Story #2: The Downside of Fabulous by Kristin Elizabeth Clark
The message in this one was very sweet and very appropriate, especially in today's culture of wanting to make everyone fit into a stereotype. It was a tad unrealistic, but definitely sweet and worthwhile, especially for anyone who has ever tried to fit themselves into a box of "rules" for being who they are.
Story #3: The Night of the Living Creeper by Stephen Emond
So this is a hard one for me, because on one hand, I loved it. It is narrated by a cat. Yes, a cat. And it is brilliant! Very witty and clever, and the discussions that the cat hears its "humans" having are also very relevant- all kinds of things, but the conversation gets intense about guys taking advantage of girls, and the titular "creeper" situation. Oh, and there are super fun illustrations. This would have been a home run for me, but then the end got a little weird and I didn't know what to make of it, so there's that.
Story #4: Makeshift by Kekla Magoon
This was incredibly short, almost too short to make an impact. There were also a lot of different topics being broached, so I wasn't sure exactly where the story was trying to go. Clearly, the main character was going through a rough time, but with so many different issues in a very limited number of pages, I just couldn't connect.
Story #5: Things You Get Over, Things You Don't by Jason Schmidt
This was so, so sad, but also quite touching. Again, I am not going into detail because of potential spoilers, but I was impressed by the emotional connection in such a short story!
Story #6: Coffee Chameleon by Jay Clark
So, the addiction piece was very good, I think that it's something that we should be talking about more, but don't. And the parents being concerned and involved was also a huge plus. But then the romance stuff just really confused me, and I still don't get it. At all.
Story #7: Hush by Marcella Pixley
This was messed up. But it was also incredibly captivating and well done. I dare say I would read an entire book devoted to this story. You kind of need to read it for yourself to understand, so do it.
Story #8: Blackbird by Trisha Leaver
First, the use of the song was perfection. Second, I loved the perspective that this story was told from, because sadly, I think it's all too realistic (sorry, vagueness, I know). Third, I will always read anything that Trisha Leaver writes, because she writes it beautifully, and this is definitely no exception. There were feels.
Story #9: Untitled by Faith Erin Hicks
This is a graphic short story, so that was cool. Otherwise um, didn't love it. There were some decent things, like not wanting to be defined by one's sexuality. But then some random stuff starts going down that makes little to no sense, and I was just thinking that it was too absurd to be real.
Story #10: The Sweeter the Sin by Jordan Sonnenblick
This one had a lot of emotions wrapped up in it: It was sweet, sad, and ultimately so frustratingly true. I loved that it was a story about our choices and our mistakes, and how they can change things. And the narrator made me chuckle a lot, with random things like this:
"There's just something so... erotic... about an angry girl with surgical tools who's just mistakenly dismembered a gestational hog."
Bittersweet, but a win.
Story #11: The Mistake by James Preller
This was so incredibly hard to read on a personal level. I'll be damned if it wasn't one of the most honest stories in the book, but it ripped my heart to shreds. I wanted answers too. I wanted to know why the characters made the choices they did, but I suppose in a short story there isn't a ton of room for that sort of thing. Haunting, no question.
Story #12: The Good Brother by Patrick Flores-Scott
I think it's a great commentary on some of the issues in our country, specifically the way we treat people who are just looking to come here for a better life. I would have liked to know more of what happened after, but I think that is probably just a problem with me and short stories in general- I want to know all the things. Some of it seemed farfetched, but never being in a situation like that, who knows?
This was a really good group of stories that were definitely true to the book's title and promise of stories about real life. I think there is absolutely something for everyone in this book, as it is absolutely full of diversity and tough topics, but also about some of the universal life struggles that we all share.
Copy provided by publisher for review*
Quote taken from uncorrected proof, subject to change.**