Review: Mad Hope – Heather Birrell

I’ve never had a rating system on this blog, but if I did have one, Heather Birrell’s Mad Hope would receive a 5/5 – it was that good!

Typically I don’t read a lot of short stories, because I like to sit down with a two hundred+ page that explores a characters journey, but Heather Birrell is so advanced in her craft of writing, my viewpoint of short stories has now been altered. She had the ability to create stories that were packed with a powerful punch. Each story showcased a variety of human emotions and experiences that gave this collection depth and range.

Mad Hope is broken up into three different sections, covering a variety of topics, loss, love and morals. Part II consists of three connected stories, Dominos, Bye Bye Flangle Nuts and Dingbat that showcases a family dealing with the sudden loss of a Father. That sentence doesn’t seem to express how intricate these stories were, because there was much more involved than just having their Father die in the backyard. Birrell examines what lies beneath the surface, right down to what a wink means from the Mother of this family. While reading these stories, I read a bit, bookmarked it and came back to it a day later, which was an injustice, because they should really all be read in one sitting (which is what I did after I finished the collection).

The story I enjoyed the most was called No One Else Really Wants to Listen which shares a look at internet forum written by pregnant woman. The forum is started by ‘New Country Girl’ who writes,

Hi All You Moms-in-Waiting,

I felt the baby move a little, I think, but I’m sort of worried because I’ve having some spotting. Not a lot, and it’s not bright red, alarm, alarm! But I feel a bit concerned. I’m wondering if anyone has any advice, or suggestions. I have an appointment with my ob-gyn on Wednesday, but I can’t sleep right now. It’s just on my mind, y’know?

~New Country Girl

Thus begins a forum of a range of woman experiencing the fear, anxiety and excitement that arise when one is pregnant. The barrier of the internet allows  each pregnant woman to feel free to express facts and truths they might not share with any of their close personal friends or loved ones. Its this kind of story development that made this story and all the other stories so personal and human.

It was a beautiful collection filled with detailed and beautiful writing and I have ‘mad hope’ (<– see what I did there?) that each and every one of you will go pick up this brilliant collection.

*Thank you to Evan Munday and Coach House Books for sending me Mad Hope for review!*

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3 thoughts on “Review: Mad Hope – Heather Birrell

  1. I heard Birrell read at Harbourfront and am looking forward to reading the book myself, which I picked up while there. You have me even more interested now!

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