Book Review: Wallflowers

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In the opening story of Wallflowers, a girl is cat-sitting for her neighbor, sleeping in the neighbor’s house. It’s nearly identical to her mother’s nearby—in the Copper Waters subdivision, they all are—but she likes it here, eating boiled eggs and watching TV, feeling out her freedom as heavy rains fall. And then a nearby dike fails. And the girl may be the only one left in Copper Waters.

 

ashley | I was excited to receive an advance copy of Wallflowers by Eliza Robertson, there’s already been a lot of buzz about Robertson and I’m always thrilled to support Canadian authors. The description of the book was intriguing but vague and did nothing to prepare me for a compilation of short stories. I was expecting a novel, but the short stories do all tie together in a similar theme; they all focus on lonely observations of wallflowers, the loners and outcasts who quietly observe people and events around them.

Each story is short and sweet and swimming with a haunting sadness. I wanted to wrap myself in the pretty phrasing and the sorrowful characters. There is such a variety of characters from story to story, which creates a variety of perspectives from a variety of different paths of life. And more often than not, each story ends on an unexpected note. Not always melancholy, but not always hopeful or happy.

I have a rocky relationship with short stories. I’ve read a number of great collections recently that I’ve really enjoyed, but unfortunately this collection brought back my initial issues with short stories – that they are short snippets into a certain part of someone’s life or a certain event. You don’t learn too much about the characters or their histories and it’s usually over before you realize it.

Robertson crafts her stories well and if you read closely enough, you can find that bit of depth I’m always craving, but ultimately, I felt too distanced from each wallflower to fully appreciate their beauty.

Wallflowers is available on August 19.

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