I’m usually a fast reader. If I don’t finish a book within a week of picking it up, chances are I’m never going to. Either something grabs me from the beginning and I’m off, staying up until an unsavory time to get that last chapter in, or it doesn’t, and I just can’t bring myself to bother with it.
But then there are books like Welcome Home. Books that I have to put down, not because of any fault of prose or failure of plot but because they inspire me to think, and I need a moment before I can collect myself to start reading again. So it took me a rather long time before I could finish reading the ARC and settle down to write a review.
Even before the first story, before the introduction, Eric Smith gives us a sense of what he set out to do in his beautiful dedication:
“For those who’ve been found
And for those out alone,
For those still searching
And for those who’ve come home.”
Welcome Home is an anthology of short stories about adoption and family, love and abandonment, fear and hope. It features 29 authors writing in various styles that speak to their own experiences. This leads to a range of voices and formats, from the magical realism vibe of Tristina Wright’s “Jar of Broken Wishes:”
“Only Daisy could see the wishes. They were airy and light and different colors. Almost like fireflies all lit up blue and pink and green.”
to Randy Ribay’s typical coffee-shop meet in “The Snow-Covered Sidewalk”:
“‘Um,’ he says, mussing his hair again. ‘You don’t have to leave. We can share the table.'”
In addition to these, there were blog-styled stories, fantasy and sci-fi stories, stories that took place in the past and stories that took place in the future. No matter the author or genre, the story never failed to pull me into its universe. The writing was varied but rarely felt disjointed. There were a few times I felt the limits of a short story, and I felt an idea could have been developed further for comprehension’s sake. But there were also times I wanted an idea to be developed further out of pure selfishness. I wasn’t ready to part with the characters just yet; their stories weren’t over. I’d love to see some of these author’s ideas expanded upon or even made into a full-length narrative.
Without hesitation, this book earns a five out of five. I don’t want to get too hackneyed with this last bit, but I really do believe Welcome Home succeeds in conveying the meaning and value of all families, no matter what they’re composed of.