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Reviewed by Lit Amri for Readers' Favorite
Laura McHale Holland's Just in Case: Twenty-one Bite-sized Stories is a collection of flash fiction bubbles with sentimentality, oddity, thrills, tears, and darkness. The stories’ premises are as diverse as their characters, varying from familiar to surreal. "Red" starts the collection, where six-year-old Tessie unhappily watches her mother wed another man, leaving the memories of Tessie’s father behind. With her husband gone and estranged from her children, a woman has everything she needs for a lonely life, including an ultimate ‘solution’ in "Just In Case" - eerie, nuanced and profound, treating the emotional territory of the young and old with deft poise. "Cold Case" is my favorite as Holland gives readers an interesting version of the Brothers Grimm's Hansel and Gretel. I would love to see this story developed further. Then there's "Open Range" in which an elderly couple gives their unfulfilled wishes another go before heading towards a retirement community. "Believe Me" is a poignant tale of a mother who's still searching for her lost child.
Excellent in emphasizing real-life situations as well as imaginative tales, these stories layer complex emotions, common individualistic struggles, and supernatural phenomena. The characters strive to overcome or at least navigate through challenging circumstances with different approaches－some succeed, and some don't. I may not able to connect to all of the stories, but no doubt each of them demands attention and is thought-provoking. This is a commendable flash fiction collection from Holland that will appeal to many readers. I look forward to reading more of her work in this genre.