Review: Rising and Other Stories by Gale Massey

In story after story in this diverse new collection, Gale Massey illustrates the moments that shape and alter destiny. Bringing each to life through interconnected themes of moving water and transience, Massey shares with us an unvarnished narrative of a world that objectifies women and the strength and resourcefulness required to attempt to overcome those limitations.

From the panicked mother in Racine who escapes to the ocean and a young girl’s discovery of her parents’ differing takes on racial equality in Glass to the inevitable end in Marked and the gamble in Not So Fast, these stories show how simple twists of fate can change a person forever. Ivy Waters and Long Time Coming both explore the loss of a father in very different ways, and how the identities of the daughters are rooted in those losses. And Elise’s life in Rising is told in contrasts as she develops the use of her volition to pull her toward the life she deserves.

Massey’s protagonists are everyday folk depicted in stories that explore the scars of redemption (Lucky Girl), despair (Differences), daring (The Train Runner) and longing (Swimaway and Freedom’s Just Another Word), a visceral sense of fate (Low Tide), and, most of all, each character’s desires and their will to live.

These stories will transform you and deepen your view of the world, as Massey helps us discern societal constructs and their acute burdens, and the many ways that people–particularly women and girls–attempt to rise above them.

Review

I haven’t read short stories in quite a while. This collection is simply stunning.

The themes of the stories are varying. They include loss, identity, family and self-discovery. They all take the structure of a decision that changed the course of the protagonist’s life. The MCs are mainly young women in different circumstances.

There are stories that are quite haunting. There is one about a female soldier that will stay with me. Rising, which was the final story in the collection,took my breathe away. Glass, which gives a young girl’s first experience with racism is such a short but powerful read.

I was captivated by each of the stories. Some of the decisions made by the MCs were so shocking that I had to go back and reread them. All in all, this is a wonderful read. Highly recommended.

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