Lost Girls: Short Stories by Ellen Birkett Morris
Published by: TouchPoint Press
Publish Date: June 2020
Genre(s): Short Stories, Feminism, Contemporary, Fiction
HB&W Rating: 4
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Lost Girls explores the experiences of women and girls as they grieve, find love, face uncertainty, take a stand, find their future, and say goodbye to the past. A young woman creates a ritual to celebrate the life of a kidnapped girl, an unmarried woman wanders into a breast feeder’s support group and stays, a grieving mother finds solace in an unlikely place, a young girl discovers more than she bargained for when she spies on her neighbors. Though they may seem lost, each finds their center as they confront the challenges and expectations of womanhood.
Synopsis source: Goodreads
Thank you to Ellen Birkett Morris for gifting me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
When I started this collection of short stories, I was a bit unsure whether the author would be able to actually portray womanhood through a few short stories. It turns out I had nothing to worry about.
The whole experience was a bit ethereal for me, almost like I was a spirit floating through the scenes and inner thoughts of these very different people, gleaning from those experiences a powerful empathy. While the stories were a bit heavy and tended toward melancholy more often than not, there was a certain beauty to them. If I had any doubt about the author’s ability to convey such strong emotions and reactions through the format of a short story, that doubt was quelled after the first one, and blown out of the water by the second story.
The individual stories are unfolded into the overarching narrative of the many facets that make up the life of the everyday woman’s experience and provide quick and satisfying bites of those experiences that can be consumed and reflected upon before moving on to the next. From the somewhat macabre thoughts that would inspire a young girl to a yearly tradition honoring a missing girl that she thought should have been her, to the constraints that a lack of resources would put on the future hopes of a woman, to body image issues, grief and love in unexpected places, Morris expertly guides us through the murky waters of womanhood and all that it encompasses.
If I had to pick at anything, I would have liked to see some sort of timeframe at the beginning of the stories. Generally when there is no set timeframe given, one assumes the present day. But there are stories in this collection that seem like they belong to a time long past, like the story of the sin-eater, Inheritance.
Also, there were stories that featured cameos of characters from others, tying them in together to give you the insight into the small-town life, but a number of stories appeared unrelated to that setting, featuring characters we don’t hear any more about. I would have liked to have the stories all revolve around the small-town characters and their inner thoughts and actions, as I feel it would have helped even more to join the individual stories into a collective narrative. That or not have cameos from previous stories’ characters at all. But honestly, this is just a Type A thing I think and doesn’t take away from any of the emotions evoked reading the book.
Insightful, powerful, evocative, and beautiful, this collection will have you flipping pages long after you should be asleep.
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