Letting Go: Stories by Len Joy is a collection of twenty-one short stories of varying lengths, ranging from less than half a page to five pages or more. Some are written in the first person while others are in the third person. Riding a Greyhound Bus into the New World is the wistful tale of a widowed man remembering the innocence of his youth. Triage recounts the snapshot memories of a retired doctor lying severely injured on a mountain biking trail. The Girl from Yesterday gives us perspective on the changes and drama in a young woman’s life after breast enhancement surgery. The Toll Collector, one of the shorter offerings, opens several brief views into the life of a courteous commuter. Guilt over the disappearance of a younger sibling drives the story in Nina’s Song. Two Roads Diverged in a Yellow Wood connects with a famous Robert Frost poem in a poignant way, while the final and title story, Letting Go, deals mainly with the recollections of a now-respectable woman with a colorful past as she awaits news of her very seriously ill husband.
Letting Go: Stories by Len Joy presents us with realistic vignettes, like bursts of life, from the lives of ordinary people who could be someone we know. This talented author, writing in straightforward language, allows us to draw our own conclusions. Part of the charm of these stories is that they do not take very long to read, so we are immediately immersed in the story. They deal with guilt and introspection but mainly with loss and how the main characters struggle to come to grips with it. Also, some of the characters may appear in a minor role in one story but take on a more prominent role in another one. This intertwining adds cohesion to the story collection, making them almost seem like chapters in a longer piece and not just a series of unconnected tales. This feature allows us to reengage with previous characters and discover more about them. Readers who like realistic stories will be drawn to this collection and also to other stories by Len Joy.
Reviewed by A. L. Peevey for Readers' Favorite