Book Review: Reasons to Live
By Taylor Hackbarth
Amy Hempel’s short story collection Reasons to Live was published in 1985 by Alfred A. Knopf INC. Reasons to live was the first short story collection that Amy Hempel has published, and she has published other collections like Tumble Home and The Dog of the Marriage. In the setup of this book, Amy Hempel has the stories in no particular order that I could find. All of the stories seemed to be random, and I do not believe that any of the stories are connected by characters. I do believe the stories are connected by the message each story leaves the reader with. In all of the stories, the meanings and messages of the stories are to show the main character’s reason to live. The stories also show the reason for the character’s actions.
One of my favorite stories in the book was the story “Pool Night”. This was my favorite story because I think it shows human nature very well. This story is about a flood that had taken everything from the main character and how she remembers it happening. I like this story because it shows how humans handle a situation in different ways. Some of the characters are sad, some of them are resigned, and some of the characters make the best out of the situation. One of my favorite lines from this story is the line describing the pictures of the character’s family: “They were faded, but the fugitive images remained. Emulsion on others had turned metallic bronze; the snapshots held deep tarnish, like a mirror.” I like this line because it does a wonderful job of describing the pictures and the scenes of her stories. This is just one example of how the author uses descriptions in her stories to help the audience understand the story better. People should read her writing because the stories help show different reasons people keep going. When I was a student, sometimes I just wanted to quit, but having a good reason to continue got me going again. This book can help people find these reasons.
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