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Search Party: Stories of Rescue by Valerie…
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Search Party: Stories of Rescue

by Valerie Trueblood

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I started reading this book months upon months ago, but I'm a multiple-books-at-a-time reader, and something usually ends up falling by the wayside. Sometimes it's because the book doesn't hold my interest, sometimes it's because something shiny comes along, and sometimes it's just a wrong-place-wrong-time sort of thing. I'm not sure what took me so long with this one...probably a combination of the last two. I remember reading "The Finding," the first story in Search Party, and being pleasantly surprised by it. I read the next few stories and sort of drifted away from the book; when I picked it up again, I couldn't believe I'd waited so long to read something so wonderful.

Search Party is a remarkably strong collection of stories. I enjoy short fiction but, as I mentioned in my review of Lorrie Moore's Bark, I think some of the recent stuff is highly overrated. Not this collection, though. "The Magic Pebble" and "The Stabbed Boy" just about broke my heart with their bits of tragedy; "The Blue Grotto," a tale of a babysitter whose overnight charge has a 105-degree fever and requires a trip to the ER, terrified me; "Later or Never" (about a caretaker) and "Street of Dreams" (about a father shepherding his homeless family) were poignant vignettes; and the opening of "Who Is He That Will Harm You" reveals its events, little by little, until the full scene pops startlingly into your mind's eye.

The main disappointment for me was the final -- and titular -- tale. At 45 pages, it creates a slowly-dragging finish to what is otherwise a smooth-moving collection. It's not a bad story, but it keeps adding new elements just when you think it's going to wrap things up. This was the only story in the book during which I found myself flipping ahead -- multiple times -- to see how much I had left. Don't let that one downfall steer you away from this book, though, because you'd be missing out.

All in all: One of the better story collections I've read recently. I still haven't decided whether to send my copy to a friend or not. I want to share it but also feel like keeping it for myself, which is high praise. ( )
  KellyWoodward | Mar 12, 2014 |
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A collection of thirteen intertwined short stories that feature characters who are each searching for something.

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