Having previously had to decline this offering due to a mountain of other books needing their reviews done for their respective deadlines, I am appreciative of Estelle for offering me another opportunity to read and talk about these short stories, which I thoroughly enjoyed.
Each of the three stories contained in volume 1 have plenty of themes both on the human and natural side. The reader will see the price of ‘progress’ and the loss it entails with the destruction of nature – which is neatly countered with the positive effects it has on the characters actions – and the uncertain legacy of what will be left of it for the next generation.
The human consequences on nature run in tandem with the heartache of families struggling; parents aren’t there, money is tight and life grinds away at the soul but there is always hope in each other and what they do have.
It is precisely this humanity that kept me reading, seeing these people going through life, trying to do the right thing. That’s not to say that the book is preachy in any way, it isn’t, it allows the characters and their circumstances to unfold in an organic way and clearly shows us their thoughts and feelings in a given situation.
Each of the participants are just ordinary folk and that is the beauty of the storytelling, the reader can instantly connect with them and just go with the story – regardless of setting and circumstance – what they do and who they are doesn’t matter because they are in existing in all their flawed glory. The titular sacrifice therefore feels more powerful because it is something truly costly to the individual which the reader can appreciate and in terms of seismic impact. The book excels at showing the ripples made by decisions, whether large or of a more subtle variety.
These stories are full of struggle and show the best and worst of people – the latter involving money of course – it’s this that forms the emotional connect. The struggles and sometimes desperation of the situation can be heartbreaking but this adversity also breeds enterprise and shows how people fight against their circumstances and learn about themselves and their interdependence on others at the same time.
It has been a while since I was genuinely moved by a (fictional) story of hard circumstances, perhaps it is because these short stories allow the events to unfold in quick succession – although they never feel rushed – over just 70 pages each or maybe it is that these stories are vehicles of recognition simply because we see glimpses of them everywhere from the news to our local community. I read this in two sittings and came away from it with both an air of melancholy but an appreciation for the redemptive actions of others. Volume two is certainly much anticipated by this blog.