Review: Florida

I would like to write a witty and profound review for this collection, but I’ll just keep it concise instead. Like most short stories, they leave you wanting more just when you’re finally settling in with the characters and the plot.

Most of these stories take place in Florida, exploring the obscurity hidden in its nature. As someone who has previously lived in Florida, I felt I was revisiting the sunshine state with all the detailed descriptions of the flora and fauna, and its distinguishing humidity.

The primary theme here was motherhood, but from a rather unconventional perspective, focusing on bleakness and distress. Some stories were engaging and memorable, while others were hard to follow.

Lauren Groff’s writing was a brushstroke that made these disturbing narrations worthy of underlining and annotations. I definitely can’t wait to read more by the author.

“The truth is, Meg had said, back when she was still a best friend, you love humanity almost too much, but people always disappoint you.”

Lauren Groff, Florida

Review: Back Talk

Back Talk Stories Danielle Lazarin My Olivine Blog

This is the first time I’ve purchased a collection of short stories and let me tell you, it did not disappoint. I first heard about Danielle Lazarin earlier this year, when I came across an article written by her, titled ‘Why I’m teaching My Daughters to be Rude’. It caught my attention so I decided to look into this writer and found out she had a book that was soon going to be released. After reading an excerpt from Amazon, I quickly added it to my shopping cart.

The stories in “Back Talk” have all protagonists who are women, from pre-teens to grown adults who are mothers. Sure if you look at it from a certain perspective, you could say that there is little diversity — the characters are all white, they mostly live in New York City and come from upper-middle-class families. But that doesn’t take away the fact that Lazarin turned ordinary moments and unconfessed emotions into narratives worth sharing. The stories also vary in length, some take two pages long while others feel like chapters from a novel. I also loved how two of the stories, ‘Spider Legs’ and ‘Second Chance Family’, are connected.

Moreover, not all of the stories are romantic, some simply focus on family dynamics or the relationship between siblings. Some illustrate an untold side of motherhood while others demonstrate how time and distance can break friendships. Regardless of your background or geographic locations, I believe that any woman who reads this will feel identified with at least one of these stories.

I enjoyed all of them, though some left me guessing on what would happen next or what did the author really mean. My two favorite ones were ‘Weighed and Measured’ and ‘The Holographic Soul’. This is definitely a collection I’ll be rereading. Perhaps in a few years, some of the other stories will speak out to me in a different way.

Overall rating: 5/5

P.S. Lazarin is currently working on a novel, I cannot wait to read more of her work.

“On the way from from the airport that day, I’ll feel the faintest weight of her beside me in the passenger’s seat, like a ghost waiting for a message we never learned how to deliver.”

– The Holographic Soul