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Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Our Love Could Light the World by Anne Leigh Parrish

Our Love Could Light the World by Anne Leigh Parrish
Published by She Writes Press ISBN 978-1-938314-44-5
Trade paperback, $15.95, 192 pages

When I received an email asking me if I was interested in reviewing a book of linked short stories about a family with five children set in the Finger Lakes region of New York State, I jumped at the opportunity. I grew up in the Finger Lakes region and I am one of five siblings. The description intrigued me.

That is where most of the similarity ends, although many of these characters seemed like people we all have known. After introducing the five children- chunky teenage Angie, who "ruled her siblings with a steady stream of insults", Timothy, close knit twins Marta and Maggie, and Foster the youngest, a happy child born with a twisted leg, this wonderfully sums up their relationship:
"All in all, the five children didn't particularly care for one another, and they didn't dislike each other, either. One thing they knew was that they stood as a pack against the rest of the world."
Mrs. Dugan worked and Mr. Dugan didn't due to an injury. She worked long hours and came home only to have to do most of the housework that husband Potter wouldn't do because he wanted to spend the day drinking. When she gets the opportunity to attend a three-day work conference out-of-town, she jumps at it and it becomes a turning point for the family.

The title story takes place as Lavinia is off at the conference. Angie has to take charge when Potter won't; she does the laundry, and sends her siblings to the store to get detergent and other necessities. They return with an elderly confused man, but without the needed items.

It is here that we see Angie's compassion and kindness, something she seems to hide behind her gruff, green-haired, nose-ring wearing exterior. This trait comes into play in later stories as well, when she bonds with a child who has Down's Syndrome (and a mean grandmother), and in her choice of career.

Angie was my favorite character, I liked the arc of her growth; it felt authentic. She occupies many of the stories, and I had a real empathy for her. I loved Parrish's honest portraits of this family that you feel could have been your neighbors.

Lavinia is also in many of the stories, and I felt badly that she couldn't really be happy. Even when she got what she thought she wanted, it still didn't fulfill her. A character like her could be shrill and unsympathetic, but Parrish writes her so beautifully that we care about her, even if we can't relate.

The men in this novel- Potter, and his sister Patty's boyfriend Murph- don't fare as well. They are willing to live off the labors of the women they live with, and don't seem to want to contribute or better themselves. While they could have been one-note, Parrish gives you a reason to root for them as they try to grow.

The Dugan family are a group of flawed people, yet we care about them even as we want to throttle them. They have ties that bind them as shown in this passage.
"Angie knew that Potter couldn't stand Brett. She also knew that he'd never say so. They had always been like that, she thought. Aware of each other's truths without needing to say much."

That really gets to the essence of this family, and probably many other families as well. They might not say it aloud, but they know each other's truths. Maybe that is the definition of a family.

I found that this book and these characters wormed their way into my heart. This collection of linked stories deserves its place right up there with Elizabeth Stout's Olive Kitteridge.

rating 5 of 5

The publisher has provided a copy of Our Love Could Light the World as a giveaway. To enter, leave your name and email in the comments section. One winner will be chosen on June 26th. US/Canada entries only, please.

Thanks to TLC Tours for providing me with the opportunity to be on this tour. Other tour stops are:

Monday, June 3rd:  Tiffany’s Bookshelf
Wednesday, June 5th:  What She Read
Thursday, June 6th:  The Relentless Reader
Monday, June 10th:  Patricia’s Wisdom
Tuesday, June 11th:  Seaside Book Nook
Wednesday, June 12th:  Conceptual Reception
Thursday, June 13th:  Books Speak Volumes
Monday, June 17th:  The Best Books Ever
Tuesday, June 18th:  No More Grumpy Bookseller
Tuesday, June 18th:  BookChickDi
Wednesday, June 19th:  Camilla Stein Review
Monday, June 24th:  BookNAround

Anne Leigh Parrish's website is here.
You can buy Our Love Could Light The World  here.


  1. GREAT review. The books sounds good.


    Silver's Reviews

  2. Wow, what a wonderful, thoughtful review! I love the comparison to Olive Kitteridge! Thank you so much for being on the tour. We're thrilled you enjoyed the book.

  3. Wow, what a wonderful, thoughtful review! I love the comparison to Olive Kitteridge! Thank you so much for being on the tour. We're thrilled you enjoyed the book.

  4. I'm definitely intrigued - the setting, large family (6 kids in mine, we even have twins), and comparison to Olive Kitteridge. Thanks for the giveaway!