Given Her History April –May is a young girl who found herself, and her brother's dog Jake, abandoned in a ditch after her parents and her youngest brother were killed in a fire. She assumed her brother Billy had left her there before he fled town. She was found by members of the very small community, who convinced a reluctant teacher and her husband to take her and the dog in. Juris, a well respected figure in town, was kind to her and brought her clothes. He asked here where her older brother Billy went. It was widely believed that he set the fire and would return one day for April-May and the dog Jake. April-May was distrustful of all those in the community. They had never been friendly to her transient family. Her father was cruel and abusive. They were very poor and even had no running water. This set her apart socially from the rest of the small community. April-May knew that the teacher did not want her living with them. After the husband died, Vivian, an elderly long standing community member took them in. She seemed to understand April-May's difficulty relating to people and always communicated to her by talking to the dog. This seemed to open up a little crack in April-Mays veneer. She had times of laughing or smiling, and even had fun rebuilding a burnt-out rabbit hutch that Vivian had to make a playhouse. Throughout the story April-May had a few flashbacks to her life with her family. It gave the effect that she was working through some of her past, but there were only a few flashbacks. So it also gave the effect that she was trying to bury her past. she always thought Billy would returns for her and seemed to look forward to it, although he was mean to her when they lived at home. After two years, he returns, and tries to barge in on Vivian and intimidate her. Jake is going crazy. Vivian ends up shooting Billy. April-May looks at Jake and realized he was her protector, not Billy.
This story was sad and a commentary on how abuse can destroy lives. I also chronicled the isolation April-May felt from the community due to her station in life, her families past and their perceptions of her. Even the school teacher refused to teach school if she attended. Although the matriarch, Vivian, took her in, the community still did not accept her. I tried to think of comparison's with Eleven on Top. The only comparison that I see is that Vivian was a strong women who did what she thought was right for the girl and her dog. She also was not intimidated by Billy. The moods of both stories were sharp contrasts. Eleven on Top was largely fun and light, even with some gruesome crimes. It seemed a little surreal. Given Her History seemed all too realistic and sad. A commentary on the darker side of society. Eleven on Top was a good length. I think if it was longer it would have become to tedious, but if shorter would have lost the flow. Given Her History was fine as it was, but also could have been developed further and explained more of the past, where Billy went, why Vivian took in April-May, and what happened after Billy died. I enjoyed Eleven on Top more this week. I needed something light and happy to read.
So far I have read short stories by two women and two men. Am I being stereotypical in my thinking that women tend to explore feelings and emotions more than men? or at least in a different way? It seems like the men approach the stories in more direct and factual ways. When they address feelings it is quick and to the point, or inferred. The women tend to flesh out the emotional side of the story a little more.
Given Her History was a good story as far as the writing goes. I did not like it because it was too dark and sad for me. But the writing was good and the pace was fine. I did wonder what would happen when Billy came back, but expected a bad confrontation in which April-May might be harmed, so I was suprised at the ending.
I am realizing that short mystery stories are entirely different than what I would have expected. I also seems like a lot of good mysteries are dark and gloomy, because crime is dark and gloomy of course. That is why I think it is good, as a mystery lover, to have lighter stories now and then like Eleven on Top. Something to read when I want a puzzle, but not a social commentary or depressing crimes.
8 years ago