Author: Anne Leigh Parrish
Publisher: She Writes Press
Date Published: June 3, 2013
Pages: 202 pages
How I Heard About It: TLC Book Tours and the publisher kindly provided an advance reader's copy for review and a giveaway copy, in ebook format!
Two Sentence Summary: In 12 interlocking short stories, Parrish introduces us to the Dugans, an incredibly dysfunctional family that goes off the skids when matriarch Lavinia leaves to marry a rich local (also her former boss). Each piece turns the lens on a different character in this complicated passel, granting an intimate perspective on the machinery of one struggling family.
Things I Think: Holy wow. Anne Leigh Parrish is an incredibly talented storyteller and this collection is no exception. I know I've been talking a lot about character development in my last few posts, and "Our Love Could Light the World" is an epic example of three-dimensional, believable humans whose motivations and choices are consistently linked.
One of my favorite characters is the Dugan's oldest daughter, Angie. We see her growth from a disillusioned, gothy teenager to a caring, independent woman whose job as a social worker suits her sensitivities and intuitions perfectly. Perhaps because she is the oldest, her relationships with parents Potter and Lavinia come to the forefront several times, and we see her become a source of comfort and even protection for her father (who struggles with alcoholism, depression, loneliness, and an undying love for Lavinia even after she has left him for her rich boss).
The family undergoes one ordeal after another, from unexpected pregnancies to torched homes; broken relationships and surprisingly forged internal bonds that come in their wake. The collection twists and turns like a Rubik's Cube, constantly breaking previously established patterns and simultaneously building new alignments. As the stories of Parrish's characters tumble around one another and interlock, the reader is quietly and charismatically delivered insights into loyalty, love, survival. The fact that the author is not heavy-handed with any type of moral makes the message she delivers all the more impactful: You may not have chosen your family, but they're the only one you've got.
I have one copy of this book to give to a reader. Comment on the post to let me know you'd like to enter, and I will randomly select a winner one week from today.