How do you even start reviewing a collection of short stories? Story by story? As a whole? Both? The Boring Index comes to the rescue!
Who wrote these? Kelly Link is known for her amazing short story collections for adults and young adults alike. She writes magical realism like no other and I’m jealous of her crazy mind. She has several of her own collections, but an even larger treasure trove of stories in anthologies.
How many stories do I need to read? Just 9, all coming in at about 20 to 30 pages. However, I listened to the audiobook version of this one and I can definitely recommend it.
What was the least boring story? The collection opens strong with The Summer People, immediately throwing you into this strange world with weird magical beings living in a home somewhere in rural America. This immediately drew me into the wondrous world of Kelly Link. I think all of the stories are strong, but my favorite was The New Boyfriend. This story is about teenage girls who live in a world where you can ask for a life like boyfriend doll for your birthday. Of course one of the girls is awkward and jealous of her richer friend who always gets all of the good boyfriends. She even got the special discontinued ‘Ghost Boyfriend’. It then becomes clear pretty quickly why this boyfriend got discontinued, but Link captures the awkward jealousy of teens so well, that I couldn’t stop listening.
What was the most boring story? I’m not sure what to make of The Lesson. All of Link’s other stories are clearly magical realism, but The Lesson doesn’t seem to have anything strange going on. It’s about two men who are using a surrogate to get a baby. They are at a wedding, when the woman goes into labor and the baby gets born prematurely and is in a lot of danger. The story focuses on the relationship between the two men and how the pregnancy and birth affects it. While at the wedding, there is a strange description of a group of people, but ultimately it doesn’t go anywhere fantastical. The story itself is apparently based on Link’s own experience and it’s definitely a good story, but its normalcy threw me for a loop.
Short Story Boring Index: I’m just going to repeat it again, this short story collection made me jealous. If I could ever trade minds with another author, I might just pick Kelly Link. She builds interesting worlds with ease and throws you off kilter with just one line, switching a seemingly ordinary story to the realm of fantasy. She can write about a society where rich kids are really into ancient Egypt and build pyramids for themselves, just as easily as she can write about different dimensions or a bunch of people talking on a spaceship. The stories read like a breeze, but they all contain some kind of urgency or an eeriness that will keep you reading on. Her ideas for strange worlds seem to be never ending and are all interesting in their own quirky ways. Although most stories in this collection are magical realism, Link still gets to show off her range. Her adults sound just as life-like as her teens and she somehow makes all of them just a little bit depressing. This book is definitely not uplifting, as all the characters are going through some kind of hardship. Link’s stories are permeated with an indescribable sadness, that definitely left its mark. Reading Get In Trouble made me want to search for anything else she might have written and devour it as soon as I get my hands on it.