REVIEW: So We Can Glow by Leesa Cross-Smith

In brief: A book of short stories of different lengths, some interconnected, that look at friendships and relationships.

The good: Some fantastic stories.

The not-so-good: I didn’t always ‘get’ the shortest stories.

Why I chose it: Saw it and thought it looked like a good read.

Year: 2020          

Pages: 246

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing (Hachette)

Setting: USA

Rating: 8.5 out of 10

I first saw Leesa Cross-Smith’s book of short stories in a bookshop, attracted by the title and cover. I’m always after books that I can dip in and out of (i.e., so I don’t stay up too late reading) so this short story collection sounded like fun. However, I did end up being unable to put it down after I realised that there are interconnected stories!

The book contains stories of varying length from one to two pages to others that span ten to twenty pages. Some are told in the first person, others in the third person but they all focus on women and relationships. Some are about strong romantic relationships; others are about bad men and less suitable relationships. Some stories focus on the depths of female friendship and others on growing up. The neat thing about these stories is that they don’t hold anything back, spelling out the bad and awkward times in addition to the hood ones. It’s about life in all its messiness and doesn’t shy away from any topic. However, all the characters have some ideal – or close to – that they are chasing. Some know that what they’re doing won’t end up in glory, but they are honest and want it anyway (e.g., the love of a bad man, which is followed up in one of the later stories. It didn’t end up well, but it had benefits). Other stories are wonderfully nostalgic of summer, teenage years and growing up.

What I loved was that about halfway or so through the book I noticed some recurring characters. Some are just hints, some are obvious. (I’m also wondering what I missed). I was very eager to try and spy any more connections as I read through the stories. Some of the really short stories didn’t hit me with the same intensity as others, but I think that’s me rather than the author. Overall, the stories are intriguing, passionate and alive.

Don’t forget to read the inspirations in full at the end for a super hit of nostalgia and an awesome playlist.

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