Death Is Not an Option book review

In Rivecca’s debut short-story collection, a memoirist who faked divine visions as a child ponders ‘the stunning isolation of non-belief’

Book review, Time In
Suzanne Rivecca

4/5
WW Norton & Company

In Rivecca’s debut short-story collection, a memoirist who faked divine visions as a child ponders ‘the stunning isolation of non-belief’. A high-school graduate mocks her fellow students and her rural town while fighting her own terror of leaving home. A victim of sexual abuse strives to live her life independently. Many of Rivecca’s characters are captured mid-action, poised in search of social redemption that goes unwritten; rather than explicitly detailing what becomes of her women, the author prefers to leave them standing on the brink of some life-changing scenarios.

Throughout the collection, Rivecca writes with a colloquial realism that helps to anchor the stories with emotional heft and genuine grit. The author plumbs her background in social work for inspiration, lending her narratives plenty of authenticity. But the repetition in voices and motifs throughout the book does weary a little: two of the stories even include the same metaphor of self-discovery, the turning over of an old stone to reveal a mess of grubs underneath.

Though Rivecca has yet to inhabit a full range of voices or circumstances, she holds promise of expansion. She has mastered honest dialogue and the measured recording of intimate details, written in a tone that is equal parts sardonically humorous and spare to the point of grief.

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