Short Story Sunday: Halfway to Free by Emma Donoghue
Halfway to Free
Series: Out of Line collection
Author: Emma Donoghue
Published: September 1, 2020
Reviewed By: Jessica
Date Read: February 1, 2022
Jessica’s Rating: 4 stars
Short Story Description:
Miriam was raised in a society without children. To offset the devastation of climate change, state-of-the-art birth control has made daycares and playgrounds things of the past. As tempting as the government inducements are to remain child-free, Miriam’s curiosity about the people who “drop out” of society to become parents grows. When she finds a like-minded partner, she must choose between the rewarding comforts she knows and the unknowable mysteries of being a mother.
Emma Donoghue’s Halfway to Free is part of Out of Line, an incisive collection of funny, enraging, and hopeful stories of women’s empowerment and escape. Each piece can be read or listened to in a single thought-provoking sitting.
Taking place in 2060, I would rather this short story be a full-length novel as all the beginnings of a dystopian tale will leave the reader thinking. The world that Miriam lives in is overpopulated and having a child is looked down upon. NOT having a child is the acceptable choice and only the extremely wealthy or celebrities procreate. There are even government incentives, support and more to stay child free. This includes having health care, housing, and even employment. There are still those that go against the grain and decide to procreate thus losing everything. Those form their own communities to pull through together.
Miriam has come to a crossroads in her life with what she should do and what she wants to do. She and her partner have to come to a decision.
This short story really makes you think with everything going on in this dystopian world, why would someone want to have a child as there is so much to lose. This story with its ‘anti-children’ stance parallels what goes on in our world today if one does not have a child, whether due to life circumstances or health reasons.
I really hope that Donoghue decides to expand upon this short story, there is so much potential here!
Book Review: Darius the Great is Not Okay by Adib Khorram
Darius the Great is Not Okay
Series: Darius the Great #1
Author: Adib Khorram
Published: August 28, 2018
Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 5 stars
Darius doesn’t think he’ll ever be enough, in America or in Iran.
Darius Kellner speaks better Klingon than Farsi, and he knows more about Hobbit social cues than Persian ones. He’s about to take his first-ever trip to Iran, and it’s pretty overwhelming—especially when he’s also dealing with clinical depression, a disapproving dad, and a chronically anemic social life. In Iran, he gets to know his ailing but still formidable grandfather, his loving grandmother, and the rest of his mom’s family for the first time. And he meets Sohrab, the boy next door who changes everything.
Sohrab makes sure people speak English so Darius can understand what’s going on. He gets Darius an Iranian National Football Team jersey that makes him feel like a True Persian for the first time. And he understands that sometimes, best friends don’t have to talk. Darius has never had a true friend before, but now he’s spending his days with Sohrab playing soccer, eating rosewater ice cream, and sitting together for hours in their special place, a rooftop overlooking the Yazdi skyline.
Sohrab calls him Darioush—the original Persian version of his name—and Darius has never felt more like himself than he does now that he’s Darioush to Sohrab. When it’s time to go home to America, he’ll have to find a way to be Darioush on his own.
This is a great story! To me, it’s the perfect coming of age story. There may be some teenage angst, but it doesn’t feel whiny. I’m no teenager anymore but I definitely related to Darius. Obviously, because we’re two different genders, there are some things that I’ll never really get. I mean, I never had to worry about circumcision the way the boys do. But the rest of it, not fitting in, loving things that aren’t cool, feeling like no one cares; I’ve been there! And bring in Star Trek and LOTR, I think Darius could be a kindred spirit. I also found his fascination with tea to be inspiring. I may not really like tea, but I can appreciate the little nuances. I think the relationship between Darius and Sohrab was really sweet. Khorram didn’t overdo it with the “everything has to be a woke lecture” thing and just let them be friends in a healthy and realistic way. By the time I got to the end, I was misty! Ok fine I was almost ugly crying but thankfully I didn’t full on ugly cry! I think this would be a really good one for those young nerds who haven’t figured out that fitting in isn’t all it’s cracked up to be yet. I definitely recommend it!
ARC Review: Unmasked: My Life Solving America’s Cold Cases by Paul Holes
Unmasked: My Life Solving America’s Cold Cases
Author: Paul Holes
To Be Published: April 26, 2022
Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: February 1-12, 2022
Jessica’s Rating: 5 stars
From the detective who found The Golden State Killer, a memoir of investigating America’s toughest cold cases and the rewards–and toll–of a life solving crime.
I order another bourbon, neat. This is the drink that will flip the switch. I don’t even know how I got here, to this place, to this point. Something is happening to me lately. I’m drinking too much. My sheets are soaking wet when I wake up from nightmares of decaying corpses. I order another drink and swig it, trying to forget about the latest case I can’t shake.
Crime-solving for me is more complex than the challenge of the hunt, or the process of piecing together a scientific puzzle. The thought of good people suffering drives me, for better or worse, to the point of obsession.
People always ask how I am able to detach from the horrors of my work. Part of it is an innate capacity to compartmentalize; the rest is experience and exposure, and I’ve had plenty of both. But I had always taken pride in the fact that I can keep my feelings locked up to get the job done. It’s only been recently that it feels like all that suppressed darkness is beginning to seep out.
When I look back at my long career, there is a lot I am proud of. I have caught some of the most notorious killers of the twenty-first century and brought justice and closure for their victims and families. I want to tell you about a lifetime solving these cold cases, from Laci Peterson to Jaycee Dugard to the Pittsburg homicides to, yes, my twenty-year-long hunt for the Golden State Killer.
But a deeper question eats at me as I ask myself, at what cost? I have sacrificed relationships, joy—even fatherhood—because the pursuit of evil always came first. Did I make the right choice? It’s something I grapple with every day. Yet as I stand in the spot where a young girl took her last breath, as I look into the eyes of her family, I know that, for me, there has never been a choice. “I don’t know if I can solve your case,” I whisper. “But I promise I will do my best.”
It is a promise I know I can keep.
Unmasked is Paul Holes memoir of his working cold cases in California. He worked some well-known cases, along with the not so well-known cases. He intensely works these cases to the detriment of his family life which we also see.
Holes tells us about his life in such a way that you are truly pulled in and go on these cases with him over the course of his entire career. He paces his story well and at times I had to remind myself that this isn’t a novel, but real life! This was his life in his search for the truly evil people that are out there.
This is also a true crime book, so there are descriptions of crime scenes and bodies given. There were no photos in the arc I was given as there usually are in true crime books. His determination for finding the criminal that would eventually be called The Golden State Killer lasted beyond his entire career. Though he can detach himself to work horrible crimes, he also lost so much in his life.
This memoir is definitely one for true crime fans who will have a hard time putting down as Holes pulls you into his story and brings you along for his life journey.
Unmasked is highly recommended and many thanks to Celadon Press for sending me an arc copy to read and review.