Stories for Homes explores the concept of ‘home’ from inspiring perspectives and I’d challenge you to reach the end without having your prejudices challenged or treasuring the things you enjoy every day a little more than before.
Four stories stood out for me in particular…
1. A Home Without Moles by Mandy Berriman is narrated by an endearing child who begins by describing her world whilst colouring pictures and, although I’m not normally a fan of spelled-out pronunciation such as ‘veekles’ and ‘hopsipal’, I have to admit that, in general, it does make the narration seem somewhat more convincing.
There was a point in the middle where I wondered, for a moment, if the domestic situation would head anywhere but, once the characters venture outside and the girl insists ‘it’s ok to do Not-Allowed things when it’s a mergency’, things start to pick up. The plot isn’t racing but my heart was. I won’t spoil it for you, other than to say that, as a mother, I was still shivering an hour later.
2. Half of Everything by Isabel Costello opens during preparations for Hurricane Sandy. The story is beautifully written and the observations precise. It evokes a strong sense of community and I liked the way the characters’ preoccupation with Halloween shows that they believe the hurricane is unlikely to hit.
Snippets of the narrator’s personal hurricane drift into the story naturally as she swings between nostalgia and the anger with which she kicks her ‘for sale’ sign. The quiet conflict, which begins when an unwanted guest turns up, builds towards an omen that left me questioning where their lives would take them after the final full stop.
3. In A Room with a View by Pete Domican the loss of the characters’ home is imminent; their suitcases are packed and the neighbours hugged.
The succinct story draws on most senses to show the sadness of moving from a space, which has always been home, to a temporary room with ‘one little cooker and…twenty-five families’. I wondered if the unreliable narrator is used too conveniently in places but I felt the way the characters are shown to be out of place is especially moving.
4. Conversely, Am I Too Late? by Amanda Saint is about a woman who is making her way back home after some time. I found the imagery to be vivid and could sense just how long ago the character left by her reaction to her changed surroundings.
The plotting is minimalistic and the writing cryptic. The story ends on a final question which made me wonder if the author plans to turn it into a novel as it is like coming to the end of a first chapter. I wanted to turn the page and read on!