Our Love Could Light The World

Thanks to TLC Book Tours, we're pleased to present a review for Our Love Could Light the World, a collection of short stories by Anne Leigh Parrish. Make sure to check out the rest of the tour stops to see other reviews!

By Anne Leigh Parrish
Published on June 3rd 2013
Published by She Writes Press
Source: Blog Tour
You know the Dugans. They're that scrappy family that lives down the street. Their yard is overgrown, they don't pick up after their dog, their five children run free - leaving chaos in their wake - and the father hasn't earned a cent in years. The wife holds them together on her income alone. You wouldn't want them for neighbors - but from a distance, their quite entertaining.

Of course, alcohol is an issue. You can tell from the empty bottles lying under the bush out front. You can hardly blame the wife for leaving one day. Without her at the helm, the rest carry on the best they can.

Their strong sense of family keeps them going. They help each other, and in some cases, rescue each other. They struggle for a better life. While they never follow the rules, or completely conquer adversity, they stare it down, meet their challenges, and earn some much needed respect. They might even make you proud.

Set in the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York, the twelve linked stories in Our Love Could Light The World depict a dysfunctional family that's messy and rude, cruel and kind, and loyal to the end.
This book is an excellent collection of short stories all centered around the Dugan family.  The Dugans are fractured, dysfunctional, but they're trying their best. Usually.  We follow the Dugans through tough times, divorce, uncertainty, upheaval and despite it all, they still care for each other in their own way. Sometimes they just don't know how to show it right, that's all.

Each story jumps the plot ahead in time, so you're really reading a series of vignettes about the family.  The central themes of each short story seem to tie back into the growth and motivation of just a few characters, but all of them, even the aunt out in Montana, are still present, despite distances.  There are times when reading that I didn't like some of the characters very much -- they all have their moments of being selfish, irrational, rude, liars, judgmental, etc.  They're not always good people.  But then you flip to the next chapter and some of the awful things that came to light previously have much more mundane explanations.  Every time I started to get all full of fury at how this character or that one was being portrayed, something happened in the next chapter to help even it out.

The stories in Our Love Could Light the World do a great job of showcasing character growth in a quick, efficient manner.  Because we skip through time, we're hitting the highlights of these peoples' lives: divorces, graduations, cross-country moves, weddings, disasters.  We see how they react in times of stress and challenge and then later, we see how they grow from it.  I don't know that I've read too many other books like this, which so neatly sums up entire lives.  At the end, you're left satisfied that all of these people are at least in a marginally better place than they were when the book started. You can almost imagine's in store for them next, but you can't be too sure -- the author loves to throw curveballs of all sizes at the Dugans.  (One particular challenge is thrown at Potter, the father/ex-husband of the story, that left me feeling heartbroken for him, and then amazed at the way he eventually bounced back -- the Potter of the first few chapters definitely wouldn't have been able to cut it in the same way.)

The book is a quick, engaging read that will have you hooked pretty quickly as you get sucked into the family's drama.  Aside from cursing, the book deals with adultery, abuse, alcoholism, and other more mature themes, so I'd recommend this for adult readers.

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