Read One, Skip One: Why They Run the Way They Do and Flight of Dreams

February 18, 2016 Mini Book Reviews 22

Why They Run the Way They Do, Susan PeraboWhy They Run the Way They Do by Susan Perabo
Fiction – Short Stories (Released February 16, 2016)
208 Pages
Bottom Line: Read it.
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Source: Publisher (Simon & Schuster) via NetGalley

Plot Summary: A collection of short stories featuring the darker undertones of daily life.

My Thoughts: Short stories have historically been a tough sell for me, but I’m trying to be more open to them after loving Nickolas Butler’s Beneath the Bonfire last year. I’m so glad I gave Why They Run the Way They Do a shot (or, more accurately, that Tara at Running N Reading convinced me to give it a shot) because it’s now only the second short story collection I’ve truly enjoyed from start to finish. On the surface, these stories are about mundane daily life…a harmless middle school prank, a child’s toy, spending time with your mother after some bad news…but, they have a darkness simmering just underneath. This combination makes them incredibly relatable, yet still eye-opening and unique. 

There wasn’t a true dud in the bunch (a rarity for me with short stories!), but like with all short story collections, I did have my favorites. The Payoff perfectly encapsulates schoolgirl innocence gone wrong, Michael the Armadillo was whimsical yet sad, and Indulgence is just gorgeous and gut-punching. Why They Run the Way They Do would be a fantastic starter collection for anyone new to short stories or who usually finds it hard to connect with them and it’s going on my Great Books Under 300 Pages List.

Flight of Dreams, Ariel LawhonFlight of Dreams by Ariel Lawhon
Historical Fiction (Release Date: February 23, 2016)
336 Pages
Bottom Line: Skip it.
Affiliate Link: Amazon
Source: Publisher (Doubleday) via NetGalley

Plot Summary: A fictional story of what could have occurred during (and caused the crash of) the real-life flight of the Hindenburg, a German airship, in 1937.

My Thoughts: Having loved Lawhon’s 2014 debut novel (The Wife, The Maid, and The Mistress), I had high expectations for Flight of Dreams. Sadly, I was disappointed with this novel, mainly because I didn’t find the real-life story it’s based on particularly interesting. The story is told from five perspectives (both passengers and crew from the Hindenberg) over the course of the four day flight and is an extrapolation of what could possibly have happened to cause the real-life crash based on the facts available to Lawhon. I appreciate the literary skill it takes to weave these bits of fact into the complete narrative she did, so my hats off to Lawhon for that.

In the Author’s Note at the end of the book, Lawhon mentions that, according to much of the primary source material, the trip was uneventful until the crash…and that’s exactly how I felt about the first three quarters of the book. I was a bit bored, even with the fictional drama among the passengers and crew. It just wasn’t that dramatic. And, there was a heavy dose of romance that turned me off. However, Lawhon masterfully conveyed the frenetic atmosphere of the explosion itself in the final quarter of the book and I quickly turned the pages through that section.

Though this wasn’t a success for me, I suspect I could be in the minority and I do highly recommend trying The Wife, The Maid, and The Mistress if you haven’t already!

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22 Responses to “Read One, Skip One: Why They Run the Way They Do and Flight of Dreams”

  1. Kerry M

    Oh, I am SO glad you loved the Perabo stories. They are just so perfect and wonderful and I loved them all as well. (Though I needed almost an entire box of tissues for that story in the middle about the dog.)

    • admin

      Oh my gosh – that one was a heartbreaker! And I really want these stories to get some attention – they were fantastic!

  2. Helen @ My Novel Opinion

    This is what I love about books and readers. We all enjoy different things. I loved Flight of Dreams, I really enjoyed how Ariel gave these real people a story. I felt as though I was on the Hindenburg with them. I agree that the romance was a little unnecessary but it did add a layer to the story. If I had one complaint it would be the overuse of scheisse. These were all upper-class people in the 1930’s and I just don’t believe that there would be that much cursing.

    I’m not hugely into short stories either but the Nickolas Butler one has been on my wishlist so I’m going to look at this one too. Thanks for the rec!

    • admin

      I have a feeling I’m going to be in the minority on Flight of Dreams, which is totally OK. Glad you enjoyed it!

      Did you read Shotgun Lovesongs, Butler’s debut novel? If you liked that, I think you would like his short stories…have a similar feel to S.L. And this one is only 200 pages, so I hope you give it a shot!

  3. Amanda

    I am trying to give more short stories a chance so these are definitely going on my list. I’m sorry Flight of Dreams wasn’t the follow-up to Lawhon’s first book that you wanted – but I am still very excited to try the Wife, The Maid… Sounds like Flight of Dreams could be a good library pick-up just to try some time.

    • admin

      Definitely try Wife, Maid!! I loved it! And I hope you give these short stories a chance…I’m definitely a short story newbie, but am finding some winners!

  4. Kay

    I struggle with short stories – well, I basically hardly ever read them. On the other hand, that cover on FLIGHT OF DREAMS drew me in the first time I saw it. We shall see how I fare with it, whenever I get around to it. LOL

  5. Kathy @ Kathy Reads Fiction

    I have to admit that I thought when I read this post, the read it/skip its would be opposite of what you have. I just cancelled my hold at the library for Flight of Dreams. I have too many books that are ahead of it and even though it’s on my list of what I’m reading through April, I’m sacrificing it for others I find more interesting. I’m thinking this is the year of the short stories for me (along with non-fic), because I’ve always felt short stories weren’t long enough to really involve me in the story and have always left me wanting more (based on those I’ve read in the past). But, I’m hoping to give them a shot this year.

    • admin

      Going into these two books, I would’ve said the Read it/Skip it would be reversed as well! Goes to show you, right?

      And that’s the same problem I usually have with short stories, but these were pretty long stories and I had no trouble getting invested in them.

  6. Allison @ The Book Wheel

    Bummer about Flight of Dreams. It’s on my list of books to read within the next few weeks and now I’m a little worried – I LOVED Wife, Maid, and Mistress. I also kept skimming over Why They Run the Way They Do because I thought it was a book about running (which I would skip) but now I’m intrigued so thanks!

    • admin

      Definitely NOT about running…at least for exercise – ha! I was so bummed about Flight 🙁

  7. Athira

    Why They Run the Way They Do sounds very good! I love books that talk about mundane things in a way that makes them stay in our mind.

  8. Deepika Ramesh

    The first one sounds like a great read, Sarah. Thank you for writing about these. I am a SLOW reader, when it comes to short stories. I started reading O Henry’s ‘The Best of Short Stories’ last year, and I haven’t finished it yet. I am trying to overcome that block, and read more short stories. I will surely pick up ‘When They Run…”

    • admin

      I think I’d be super slow about reading short stories too if I started with The Best of Short Stories! Sounds intimidating! Why They Run is a quick one…

    • admin

      You may still want to try it…as I literally haven’t seen one other negative review out there. Others seem to love it. I think I’m also just falling out with historical fiction lately. And any high dose of romance always bothers me.

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