Emotionally mature and complex, one of the best short stories I’ve read! “Wings” by Kia Thomas (a review)

Last week, author Kia Thomas (@kiathomasedits) put out a call on Twitter: for her birthday, help get her short story, Wings, to #1 in Amazon’s Literary Short Story category. For $1.29, I bought the book, and I recommend you do, too! (Looks like she got to #11 that day, which is awesome!).

Wings: A Short Story by [Thomas, Kia]

The Hunters hunt.
The Elders rule.
The women care for the young.

Everyone knows their place. Except for one young woman. Every day, she sneaks away to a clearing in the forest. One morning, she finds an injured creature in her secret hideaway, and she decides to nurse it back to health.

But she is not where she should be, nor doing what she should be doing. And this will not be tolerated…

The power of the book lies in its depth of emotion and the complexity of the characters. The story’s short chapters are told in the first person, from the points of view of the woman, a hunter, and an elder. Thomas weaves so much content into such short chapters – I really felt like I knew the characters. I rooted for (or against) them; I felt connected to them; I saw and felt them learn and grow. Wings, in a completely non-pushy way, makes a statement about challenging societal limitations and allowing oneself the space to grow; about the ability to think for oneself and stand up for what’s right rather than what’s expected; about the willingness to show vulnerability. I particularly like how the characters process their emotions without necessarily being able to name what they’re feeling — they don’t need to, they just feel them, and assess them, and use them to make decisions about how they will act.

Overall, it’s a very emotionally mature story, capturing both male and female, young and old characters. I’m impressed by the depth of the writing and look forward to seeing more from Kia Thomas!

5 Stars! (PS – It’s worth your $1.29!)

Book Review: The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar and Six More by Roald Dahl

Earlier this year I picked up The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar and Six More by Roald Dahl to read with my daughter (who is now 8), having been under the mistaken impression that it is a children’s book. Eek – it is NOT. It’s a good book, and I’m glad I read it, but I’m equally glad that she lost interest after a couple of stories.
The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar and Six More

The book is an interesting mix of stories, including several fictional stories as well as an autobiographical story and one true narrative. Overall, though, my feeling about the book is that it’s pretty dark. One story in particular follows young boys as they strap another child to a train track and watch as the train passes over him (!) – this story prompted my daughter to ask, “Mom, why would someone write that story?” My response was something along the lines of how there are bad people in the world, like those mean characters, and sometimes writers will write those stories to help them understand the bad things in the world. I told her that all stories present some truth from the world and have something to teach us, but that we don’t have to read those stories if we don’t like them. That was the last story we read together in the book, but I went on to finish it myself.

I give the book three stars, because it was well-written, engaging, and interesting…but not amazing and slightly disturbing. The autobiographical story is illuminating as to the author’s life though repetitive if you’ve read part of his autobiography (as I have). I do think it should be clearly advertised as NOT A CHILDREN’S BOOK, though!

Book Review: The Art of Hiding by Amanda Prowse

34111673I recently read another book I picked up via NetGalley last year/earlier this year, called The Art of Hiding by Amanda Prowse. When I opened it up I had no recollection of what it was about, or even whether it was fiction or nonfiction. Turns out it’s a novel, and a fairly heavy one at that. I briefly considered putting it down, because I sometimes struggle to read emotionally taxing stories, being prone to depression and anxiety, but I quickly found myself too engrossed in the story.

The protagonist, Nina McCarrick, is left to raise her two sons when her husband unexpectedly dies in a car wreck. Having married young and into wealth, Nina has never had to fend for herself as a mother and adult. The novel is Nina’s story at its heart: her journey to self-awareness, self-sufficiency, and self-respect, as a woman and as a mother. Though I started out identifying with Nina, as the story went on I sometimes found her incredibly frustrating — I found myself judging her and asking how on earth she let herself get into such a ridiculous situation! That said, I came to admire her perseverance and her ability to both provide for her sons AND pay attention to her own needs.

It’s an emotional story of loss, so the reader must be prepared for some weightiness. But it’s also a story of love and triumph, with many important life lessons taught (in a very unpreachy fashion) along the way. I’ve included below some of my favorite quotes from the book, those that resonate most with me (for varying reasons) and that I think show some of the depth of the story and insightful life lessons learned by the characters throughout the book:

“But here’s the thing, Nina. I think happiness lies in being content now – right now! Every day! That’s not to say you can’t plan and work for change, but if you are constantly waiting for happiness to start, waiting for the change that will make it happen, then you just might miss some really good days along the way.” (Kindle location 3253)

“Hardship eroded his sense of entitlement and in its place a nicer, humbler boy was emerging.” (Kindle location 3953)

“I’ve been reading a lot about people who are depressed. People who live with extreme stress and those who only see one way out… They often fall into two camps. Those who fall apart externally, seek help, battle it publicly, and then there are those won don’t, can’t. It’s this group of people who interest me most. They are skilled in the art of hiding. I think that my dad must have been like that.” (Kindle location 4105)

I’m sorry it took me so long to read this book and I definitely think it’s well worth reading (just not if you’re feeling in a fragile frame of mind). I’ll definitely be interested in reading more from Amanda Prowse!

4 stars!

Buy it now for only $0.99!