- Author: Annalisa Crawford
- Published: June 2016 by Vine Leaves Press
- Category: Short Stories, Contemporary Fiction
In You. I. Us, Annalisa Crawford captures everyday people during poignant defining moments in their lives: An artist puts his heart into his latest sketch, an elderly couple endures scrutiny by a fellow diner, an ex-student attempts to make amends with a girl she bullied at school, a teenager holds vigil at his friend’s hospital bedside, long distance lovers promise complete devotion, a broken-hearted widow stares into the sea from the edge of a cliff where her husband died, a grieving son contacts the only person he can rely on in a moment of crisis, a group of middle-aged friends inspire each other to live remarkable lives. Day after day, we make the same choices. But after reading You. I. Us., you’ll ask yourself, “What if we didn’t?”
This book of short stories is a little gem. It runs the spectrum of emotions from differing points of view and age ranges, from the most joyful high to the depths of sorrow – emotional, sensitive, moving and tender. The stories convey sentiments we can all relate to and appreciate. There are sketches from all sorts of situations and each gives pause for thought. I enjoyed them all. Here’s just a very small taste, there are lots more.
Motherhood ~ one of the longer stories, which tugs at the heartstrings.
I’m sorry, so sorry.
You’re wired up, your tiny heart beating through tissue-paper skin. You’re far too small – your hand doesn’t even wrap itself around one of my fingers.
It’s all my fault.
In The Beer Garden ~ appearances can be deceptive, and how often do we ignore something or someone through feeling uneasy.
…I sit alone.
…my hands shake, my eyes are puffy and raw. I probably shouldn’t be here, in full view of other people, but I didn’t know where else to go.
Sisters ~ being the most beautiful doesn’t guarantee happiness or affection.
Oh, this must be killing you. It’s you who people normally stare at and admire, falling over themselves to talk to you. The rest of us gave up years ago.
Redemption ~ an opportunity for revenge on one of the bullies who made schooldays miserable.
I stare at my phone long after you’ve disconnected, wondering what the trick is. Will you be sitting in the café opposite, pissing yourself laughing, while I wait for you in the rain? Will you take bets on how long I’ll stand there? Or perhaps you’ll order the most expensive dish and run out on the bill?
It’s expert storytelling and skilful writing when so much is expressed in so few words. Some of the stories are only just over a page long, some are several pages and in each one there’s a definite sense of the characters and their reactions and emotions relating to the circumstances and/or relationships with others. I loved the unexpected twists to some of the endings. Great cover too.
My review is based on a free copy of the ebook from the author/publisher. This does not affect my opinion or the review content.
About Annalisa Crawford
I write dark contemporary, character-driven stories, dealing with the confusion, deceit, surprise and enjoyment of life; adding paranormal elements when the reader is least expecting it. I write mostly about relationships: romantic, parent-child, waitress and customer, killer and victim, teenager and the poster on her wall. I am endlessly fascinated by the way people treat each other.
I have been winning competitions and publishing short stories in small press journals for many years.