If I Had My Way is a collection of ten short stories. Some are surprising and some are subtle. This splendid collection of short stories begins with Sunshine. A story of a young girl coming into her own as a young woman on her graduation day. Tandrin Drive is the tragic tale of a dysfunctional family of women trying to escape their dark past. Journey is a story with the theme of poetic justice at its core. A teenage boy who has been given more chances than he deserves but may find it’s too late to get the one last chance he desperately wants. The story Thirst, is a tale of romance and longing. It is humorous and romantic and will leave readers yearning for more. Match Maker is a story of a young friendship built on the foundation of courage and trust. Five Minutes is the story of Niceta, a young woman fighting for her freedom as she tries to escape the life she is trapped in with her two young children. If you ever had a feeling that someone was lying, then you will be able to relate to Poison Ivy, a story about a young girl who senses when something just isn’t right. The story Substitute is a compelling story about two brothers who both empathize with the plight of each other for different reasons. It’s heartfelt and shows the lengths that brothers will go to to keep a loved one happy. A love story, titled Love, is indicative of loving someone through good and bad times, ups and down. Unseen is the last story in the collection, about a two women, vying for the affection of one man’s attention and devotion. For the wife, it’s hard to compete when the woman she’s up against is her mother-in-law.
It’s been a long time since I’ve read an anthology of short stories, so I’m glad that I got to break that streak with If I Had My Way by Lena Sledge. This collection of short stories was intriguing and compelling with distinct characters and a myriad of issues.
I have to say that the author had a very unique way of presenting stories and developing her characters. Each character voice was very distinctive and I found it easy to determine if it was a male or female speaking just based on the character voice. I found this refreshing because sometimes with first person stories I’m not sure until I’m explicitly told or clued in some other way. So the fact that I could tell let’s me know how strong the characters were created and that their stories were important.
This anthology explores themes of parent abandonment, life-altering secrets, and abuse of all kinds. The stories also touch on issues that still plague the black community today like complexion and hair texture. I liked that the author worked such issues into the stories because they still fuel stereotypes and hatred today and creating awareness about such things could prove to help eventually eliminate them.
Though the stories dealt with many serious issues and problems, there were many light touches of humor sprinkled throughout the anthology. This helped to break up the heaviness of some of the stories and made them even more enjoyable. I have to say I took an exceptional liking to Journey, Thirst, and Match Maker. Each story was charming and heart warming in their own way and I didn’t want them to end.
Overall I loved reading the collection of short stories in If I Had My Way. The stories feature strong characters navigating their way through real life issues. They so reflect reality that I think people will have no trouble identifying with one or more characters in these stories. Definitely give this one a go.
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Filed in: Anthology, Black Fiction, Fiction, Reviews Tags: Anthology, Black Fiction, Fiction, Lena Sledge, Review