Author: Adria J. Cimino, Allison Hiltz, David Whitehouse, Didier Quémener, J.J. Hensley, Jenny Milchman, Kristopher Jansma, Lizzie Harwood, Marissa Stapley, Maureen Foley, Paula Young Lee, Piper Punches, Regina Calcaterra, Stephanie Carroll, Vicki Lesage
Source: from publisher for review
Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads
Last year, I was able to participate in the fun #30Authors event, connecting authors with bloggers and readers. This interaction led to the creation of Legacy, a collection of short stories written specifically for the anthology. This collection includes both fiction and nonfiction pieces, all connected by their exploration of the idea of legacy.
As I say every time I review a short story collection, there were some hits and some misses for me. About half of the fourteen stories really blew me away. Of the rest, I only truly disliked two, where they writing style didn’t work for me. The rest didn’t feel developed enough in the short story format, but I thought they had a lot of potential. Each of these either felt too short for me to begin to care about the characters or didn’t explore the plot as much as I would have liked. That sums up the stories I didn’t like, so rather than share reviews of each of the fourteen stories, I’ll highlight a few of my favorites.
The Uraniums by Kristopher Jansma was a wonderful start to this collection, my favorite of all the fictional stories. The story began with a fascinating hook and some awesome wordplay. The characters were delightfully quirky, described in ways that highlighted what was most unique about each of them. And the idea of the story, of an incredible event never to be repeated, was haunting and intriguing.
Two nonfiction stories, Two Kinds of Legacy by Jenny Milchman and A Forever Home by Regina Calcaterra, were my overall favorites. Both stories were very personal stories for the authors, which I found incredibly moving. In Two Kinds of Legacy, Jenny described her experience with bullying and how this influenced her as a writer. In A Forever Home, Regina talked about her experience as a foster child aging out of the system. She explains that even children who age out can be adopted. For those that aren’t, she shares how hard not having a family can be, both emotionally and practically, as they lack the social support necessary to get through tough times. This one moved me to tears and I can’t recommend it enough.
Four Days Forever by J.J. Hensley and Forget Me Not by Stephanie Carrol could both have been longer, but had such great hooks that I enjoyed them anyway. Four Days Forever moved backwards in time, day by day, which I thought was a great way of playing with the traditional narrative structure. The author captured the gritty feel of a poor city. He also created an impressively complex character, given the length of the story. Forget Me Not took a traditional approach to discussing legacy as what you leave behind when you die, but the element of magical realism with a fated death made the story feel fresh to me.
Apfelstrudel by Vicki Lesage provided yet another reminder that there will always be more stories worth telling about WWII. Although the writing and story were simple, they were also beautiful and moving. Bound by Water by Maureen Foley reminded me of Barbara Kingsolver’s writing because of the beautiful nature imagery and touching exploration of one woman’s love for her land and for her daughter. And last but not least, Gracie’s Gift by Piper Punches explored a complex and moving family situation, which I found especially impressive in the short story format.
In addition to these great stories, there’s another reason to pick up Legacy. All proceeds will go to PAWS for Reading, a charity that allows children to learn to read by reading to therapy dogs and cats. You can learn more about PAWS for Reading here and can find more reviews and author interviews on the Legacy blog tour here.
Do you like short story collections? Why or why not?
Jancee @ Jancee's Reading Journal
I really wish I liked short stories more. I always want to read them, but they just aren’t my thing.
Given that almost half of these didn’t work for me in ways that I think would have been fixed had they been longer, I also was thinking that short stories might not be for me as I read this. I like the idea of sampling a bunch of authors, but it’s very rare for me to find a collection where I love most of the stories.
Adria J. Cimino
Thanks very much for taking the time to read and review the anthology! For us as editors, it was interesting to see how each author took the theme and shaped it into a completely different story…
Thanks for including me in the tour! I had a lot of fun seeing where everyone went with the theme too 🙂
Reviewing short story collections is so difficult! It’s hard to convey the experience of reading a short story collection. I like that you chose to highlight the best of the best in your review.
Thanks Amanda! I wanted to have an overall positive review since this came out of a such a close collaboration between bloggers and authors, so I was happy that most of the stories I didn’t like could be grouped together instead of having to drag out critiques of each. I felt like they all didn’t quite work in the short story format, but they all had potential. It was also fun to be able to fan-girl about the ones I liked 🙂