In her first collection of short stories, Beth Goldner looks at loss-of love, of health, of life-through the lives of ordinary women in extraordinary circumstances . The women of Wake are suffering-or have suffered-a profound loss, loss that has left them seeking renewal or perhaps just escape. Sometimes they long for a husband, a baby, a trinket, sometimes for something far more elusive. In the title story, two sisters are slowly losing their parents to mental illness. In Cardiff-by-the-Sea, a man who lost his sight in Vietnam is reborn through a new relationship with a daughter he didn’t know he had. In Plan B, a woman loses her husband to an affair with a much younger woman-and loses her grip on sanity at the same time. In Outcomes, we meet a hospice worker who steals an inconsequential token from the patients she watches die, her own strange, unethical, but intimate ritual to the life cycle. This bravura performance from a fresh literary voice, bringing together a diversity of characters in various stages of life, will touch and surprise readers as it reveals some of life’s smallest but most rewarding possibilities.
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