Reviewed by Amy Gruzesky
Sing to It: New Stories is the newest collection of stories by renowned short story writer Amy Hempel in over a decade. It is a collection of 15 stories about people who are either living, or have lived through, life altering experiences and find a way to keep on going despite their sad circumstances.
From the exhausted animal shelter volunteer dealing with abandoned dogs and dogs scheduled to be euthanized, trying to show them some human kindness and compassion; to a woman who gave her daughter up for adoption at the age of 18 and learns decades later the Maternity House she went to was not the good place she believed it to be, but still finds a way to live with her decision; to a wife who learns her husband is cheating on her; the characters in these pieces will stay with you long after you turn the last page.
But be forewarned: these are not happy stories, or even necessarily stories of redemption. Rather, they are pieces that, to me at least, show pieces of people in a specific setting or circumstance and how they choose to deal with it.
Some of the pieces, like the first one in the book, “The Orphan Lamb,” are only a few paragraphs long, leaving the reader to fill in the blanks and flesh out a more complete story based on what can be gleaned from the brief interlude with them that Hempel provides.
The stories are well-written, and the entire collection can easily be read in one sitting, but if you’re like me, you might find yourself putting it down every now and again in order to reflect on what you have just read and digest it because while most of the stories are short, they are very thought-provoking and deep.
At the end, you will find that some of them were inspired by real people and situations, and one, “The Chicane,” took the author 30 years to complete, which she did in this book. It makes you realize the work, thought, and effort writing and creating takes.