Life is messy. But Natalie Serber’s collection of short stories, Shout Her Lovely Name, bravely delves right into the messy lives of family relationships, particularly those of mothers and daughters, and exposes them with empathy and affection.
In addition to being linked thematically, several of the stories follow the lives of the same characters, Ruby and her daughter Nora. We meet Ruby as a child, see her grow to adulthood and become a mother, and then watch the cycle occur again in Nora’s tumultuous life. The stories all reveal the characters ache for connection, as they explore their uneven and sometimes desperate attempts to achieve it.
Serber’s writing is sharp and sometimes acerbic. She marvelously captures every era, from the 1970’s to the present, and places the reader squarely into each place. I don’t often read short story collections, but I enjoyed the way these were linked both in theme and in character, making them read almost like a novel.
Serber’s story is a familiar one. “I imagined I would be a teacher like my mother, or maybe I would write for magazines,” she says,”but what I really wanted to do was to stay at home with my children, and I did. I gardened, cooked, volunteered at their school. When my youngest entered preschool, I took a writing class and then I took another. Soon I gave up gardening and took up early rising until my morning shufflings—making coffee, letting the dog out, writing at my desk—woke the household at five. With my kids in elementary school I wrote in coffeehouses and at the library, in the parking lot where I waited for them after school.”
Now, facing “the empty nest,” she has released another bird into the sky – this interesting and well written collection of stories about motherhood. A fitting debut, I think, and one that should soar.
I have a copy of this collection to give away. If you would like a copy of this book, leave a comment below. A winner will be chosen at random on Sunday, July 15, 2012.
Thanks to TLC Book Tours for the opportunity to read this book.