ONLY TO SUSAN by Susan D. Crum Vance


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A debut collection of short personal essays in which the author wonders if life’s pitfalls only happen to her.

The author writes in a foreword that she wanted to check an item off her bucket list, pay tribute to her father and leave a legacy for her son with this book. Each short chapter tells a tale from her life—some silly, others intensely serious. Whether the story involves her mistaking salt for sugar in home economics class, her son becoming seriously ill while on vacation or her father’s death, she always asks whether such things happen “only to Susan.” When she reveals more amusing pieces of her past, she adopts a lighthearted manner that gently meanders on and off topic, and when she discusses stressful periods of her life, she conveys her panic with short, focused prose. Her friendly, emotional and direct style, combined with the short chapters, makes this collection an easy read, as if having a conversation with a girlfriend; her willingness to show herself as naïve or vulnerable will likely keep readers turning pages. The only element that might pull readers out of the book is the “only to Susan” motif; the chapters are so short that the question quickly goes from being quirky to being repetitious. When the author tells stories that hinge on misunderstandings or absent-mindedness, the question may seem frivolous, but when she encounters common, if devastating, events such as illness and death, the question may come off as self-involved. That said, by the book’s last chapters, the author manages to turn it into a powerful, emotional statement. Overall, the question likely won’t distract readers from these intriguing snippets from the author’s life.

A collection of universal stories about a woman following her own path.

Pub Date: March 5th, 2012
ISBN: 978-1461019695
Page count: 86pp
Publisher: CreateSpace
Program: Kirkus Indie
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