Review: “Fallen Leaves,” a Short Story by Rachel Elizabeth Cole

by Jason Varrone

Rating: 3 STARS

Genre: Literary Fiction

Type of Story: Short Story

Summary: For as long as fifteen-year-old Grace Sather can remember, her great-grandmother has hated her mother. And now Mom wants Gran to move in with them. But before Mom can talk Gran into it, Gran has a bad fall and winds up in the hospital. Now a long buried secret is about to emerge. A secret that could shake the family to its very core.

Review: Rachel Elizabeth Cole’s “Fallen Leaves” is a heartfelt tale told in the first person. I must admit that this is the first story I have ever read within the women’s fiction genre. I found this story somewhat moving and enjoyed Rachel’s descriptive writing and dialogue.

This short story is told from the perspective of Gracie, the middle-child in a family of three girls raised by their widowed mother. Great-Gran, Gracie’s grandmother, an unkind woman, is old and infirm, but refuses to come live with the family after the offer is extended. After suffering a fall and winding up in the hospital, the story unfolds further, and a family secret is revealed at the end that you will never see coming.

Rachel blends different writing styles in this story, at times simple and straightforward, and at times beautifully descriptive. Here is an excerpt from “Fallen Leaves”:

She looked so much like a dried-out husk, like she could be crushed between one’s forefinger and thumb and swept away with a puff of air, that I wondered if she very well might shrivel up and vanish.

As descriptive as some of the writing is, there were a few occasions where exposition took over the story. I understand the reason for this background material, but it slightly took away from the overall flow. The first-person point of view can be difficult to write well, and for the most part Rachel handles this challenge admirably. However, it was difficult to get a sense of what Gracie was feeling throughout much of the story. Gracie was so concerned with telling the story that I did not get a sense for how the story affected her. Perhaps that was by Rachel’s design, but I would have liked to have gotten a sense of emotion from Gracie, to feel how the story impacted her character and from her perspective.

Much of the story contains dialogue, and it felt natural and smooth throughout, as if you could picture your own grandmother and mother sitting at a table, speaking to one another with indifference. The secret revealed at the end of the story comes out of nowhere, and provides the reader with a better understanding of the history of this family.

This was an enjoyable read, and I look forward to reading more of Rachel Elizabeth Cole’s work.

Available at: Amazon

Author Site: Website

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