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Book Review: Chicago Bound

Chicago Bound. Sandra Colbert. McIver Publishing, 2015, Trade Paperback, 136 pages.

Reviewed by Christine Collins Cacciatore.

My new review is for Chicago Bound, a book of short stories by Sandy Colbert. Short stories you say? I’m there. I love short stories! From the start, I was interested in reading a book that I knew was a long time in the making from an author I know personally. Sandy is the past President of InPrint Writers Organization and has been writing short stories for a long time. This is her first book of short stories but I’m betting it certainly won’t be her last.

As they are short stories, there is no main character. No matter, though, because the characters within her stories spring to life enough to sustain the entire telling. The author does a good job of making you feel something as you’re turning the pages. Some of the stories are gritty, sad, and somewhat depressing. As you would expect, those feelings linger long after you put the book down. 

One of my favorites is the story The Confession. The main character, Gramps, is vividly drawn. Readers can picture the old man in their mind’s eye. He’s talking to his grandson about the war and about his first wife, Barbara, whom he lovingly refers to as a whore. Read the rest of the story to find out how that conversation went over with the teenager.

A Mother’s Day was another story that I thoroughly enjoyed, mostly because in the scheme of things it had a relatively happy ending. Happy endings are not very common in Sandy’s book of stories; the people she’s writing about are sad, unhappy people going through terrible experiences. In addition, although most of the stories are gloomy, they’re powerful and provocative; she makes them seem like real people going through real things and as most people know, life just isn’t happy all the time.

Doris and the Kids is about a little girl who believes her paper doll possesses miraculous superhero powers and is able to transform into a powerful champion for people in need. Since I tend to read supernatural type stories, I almost prepared myself for Paper Doll Doris to actually save people and the young girl would prove it to her family. Although that didn’t happen (darn it) I liked the ending; it suited the tone of the story and really, it couldn’t have ended in a more perfect way.

Despite the fact that almost all of the stories are somewhat bleak, the characters within each story do exactly what they must. One story that doesn’t follow that rule is Anton’s Story. The reader is in the character’s mind, hearing him rationalize why he beats his family and drinks, so the ending was rather a surprise to me and will be to you, as well.

Chicago Bound is an enjoyable book. Readers of short stories, and particularly readers raised in Chicago, will enjoy this book. These stories are definitely the brainchild of someone raised in Chicago’s Back of the Yards and her credibility regarding the locale and the flavor of that area adds to the appeal. 


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