Why They Run the Way They Do by Susan Perabo
Fiction – Short Stories (Released February 16, 2016)
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 by Ariel Lawhon
Historical Fiction (Release Date: February 23, 2016)
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!