Face your fears, follow your dreams and say hello to that gorgeous hunk—that’s the message from this feisty collection of motivational verse and short stories.
Recalling her own struggles with depression, the author of this energetic medley encourages readers to get out of their shells, take charge of their lives and believe in themselves despite reverses and naysayers. The first section consists of poems aimed at stimulating the will to succeed, written in the exhortatory tone—“Do you want to be / a flash in the pan or the cream of the crop? / What will it take to get you to grab the bull by the horns?”—of an exuberant life coach with a weakness for mixed metaphors. The bulk of the book consists of Rabello’s short stories, which wrap self-help sermonizing in florid romance. Most of her tales center on shy, insecure, lovelorn women with extravagant hopes that they despair of achieving; their task is to learn to seize happiness by both lapels when it shows up—usually in the form of men dripping with wealth, looks and sensitivity. (The man’s complementary task is apparently to instantly fall in love with the heroine.) Sudden, charged encounters drive the narratives: A cleaning woman spends a passionate night with a psychiatrist then wonders if she should pursue a commitment; a career girl meets a studly ghost in need of help; an aspiring writer weathers a scathing critique from a hotshot editor whose caustic manner masks his own vulnerabilities; a volunteer at a feel-good telephone chat line wins a businessman’s heart by helping him with his ethical quandaries. The stories depict a dance of attraction and anxious hesitancy, with lots of testy and flirty banter thrown in: “I’m interested in your expertise. The fact that you’re an exquisite mulata is icing on the cake.” Rabello writes in a fluent style, but her plots often feel contrived, and the dialogue sometimes lapses into motivational volleys. (She: “Let’s both use our pain as energy—as fuel for the fight.” He: “Don’t let the things you don’t have prevent you from using the things you do have.”) Still, readers looking for a shot of gumption may get swept off their feet by these whirlwind redemptions.
A lively but somewhat pat bundle of fictive life lessons.