I have to admit, I was skeptical of my decision to keep reading this book at first, thinking that somehow, someway, the stories would relate back to each other at the end. Although the genre of mystical/fantasy isn't my favorite, I did enjoy several of the stories as stand-alone pieces. I would say to give this book a chance; several of the selections are well-written and even comical at times. My favorites were the long-form poetry, especially those with a contemporary connection.
Child Molestation Stories presents the reader with a variety of types, scenarios, and effects of childhood sexual abuse. I applaud the author for including stories by young adults as well as one by a 4-year-old child. Although the stories are brief and do not give an explanation as to how interviewees were chosen for this selection, all are powerful in their unique, painful ways. The author does not seem to editorialize on sexual abusers or their victims, and that is refreshing when reading about a subject that inspires harsh judgments and bitter emotions. I finished the excerpts with a more complete understanding of the thoughts and feelings of victims. I think it would be interesting to read interviews with sexual abusers in this episodic format. Many thanks to the author for tackling this harsh reality that occurs with more frequency in America than most would like to admit with dignity and wisdom.
I really enjoyed the plot and story development in "Dirty Little Angels." The main character, Hailey Trosclair, is trying to cope with a troubled family life and growing up among people with their seductive vices. I thought the topic of mental illness could have been explored more deeply, however, I applaud the author for discussing it in his novel. The story kept me very interested in the characters, but I would have liked some more development about the characters' inner lives and thoughts. The characters operate in a reactive manner throughout the story. I would also have liked the author to tie in the title, "Dirty Little Angels," into the plot--seemed to be an afterthought with how it is explained toward the end of the story. Overall, I did enjoy this read and would recommend it to others looking for a more "real" glimpse of what it's like to be a troubled teen growing up and being her own parent.
"Have A Nice Weekend" by Ian Ellis details the mundane life of Will, a middle-aged, divorced, lonely Englishman living in a single flat. Ellis guides the reader from Will's present less-than-ideal circumstances back to his childhood friendships, the day he met his future wife, the birth of his first child, and the day his wife told him to "get out" in order to demonstrate Will's character strengths and flaws. I found it very difficult to be sympathetic toward Will. It seems his internal monologue is constantly harping on his lack of ambition (while placing the blame for his dead-end job/life/attitude elsewhere) and the numerous excuses he invents to keep things status quo, even when it places his family life in jeopardy, gets very tiresome. When Ellis wrote from Abi's (Will's wife's) point of view at intervals, I cringed at the "stereotypical" unhappy nagging housewife caricature.
As a whole, the novel did well at detailing the mundane thoughts/actions people carry on in the day-to-day without making the story as a whole boring, and I regard that as one of the author's achievements. In terms of the ending of the book and my overall satisfaction as a reader with the resolution, I was left wanting more and felt the ending very hollow. I recommend giving "Have A Nice Weekend" a read though, and see how much you agree with Will's views on life.