How Old Are The Gossip Girl Characters Supposed To Be Short Fiction of William H Coles Book Review

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Short Fiction of William H Coles Book Review

The Short Fiction of William H. Coles 2000-2016 is a collection of 33 short stories, a novella, and two graphic novels. Illustrations enhance each story, complementing the reading experience and understanding. Peter Healy has brilliantly illustrated two graphic novels that are retellings of the previous stories in the collection.

The characters and themes in this book are unique. While they share the interconnectedness of human struggles and moral issues, they do not intermingle. Many messages are taught through these stories, including unconditional love, acceptance, stereotypes, anxiety, faith, death, birth, family values, and narcissistic behavior. Most of the stories are dark and have a miserable ending. Some offer a glimmer of hope, while others are downright terrifying.

I felt I could relate to many of the stories because they accurately portray the world we live in. I wanted more information and personality from some of the stories; characters that had a little more feeling. My two favorites were The Gift and SISTER CARRIE, the novella.

The Gift is set in 1959 with Catherine, a seventeen-year-old protagonist who has recently discovered that she is pregnant. Her father remains loving and supportive, but her mother feels ashamed at the thought of gossip. Catherine asks for the advice of a local priest, who arranges for her to “visit” a monastery in the south of France. The baby is born and swept away before Catherine can catch a glimpse. However, she knows something is wrong when she wakes up to find her friend Maggie crying by her bedside. Catherine and Maggie embark on a mission to find the little girl he loves. During the following years, we are able to glimpse the unconditional love of a mother and the strong support of family and friends. But in the background lurks a mother who is indifferent, distant and unkind. Everyone will be swayed to one side or the other. You can choose whether compassion or selfishness is the right path.

Sister Carrie is the longest story in the book. With longer stories, the reader can develop more feelings for the characters over the course of the novella. As the story unfolds, we are introduced to seventeen-year-old Carrie, who is reeling from the sudden death of her parents. Jessie, Carrie’s sister, is the only family member willing to take on the responsibility of caring for the teenagers. After only four months, Carrie meets a young immigrant on the Internet and falls in love. Jessie despises the relationship and tries her best to keep them apart. Will Carrie persevere in this seemingly anything but normal relationship and support the man she loves? Who has the right to say if someone really loves another.

Author William H. Coles has won many awards, including the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction and the William Faulkner Creative Writing Competition to name a few. I highly recommend reading this contemporary collection of short stories by a talented author.

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