Tag Archives: Short Stories

Book Buzz: Back Talk

My rule of thumb is to give every book a chance. Sometimes this requires patience, like a good 50 pages or so.

And then there are times when I know by page one I am hooked and just settle in for a good read.

I love when that happens.

Hello, Back Talk.

Book Buzz: Back Talk

Let me rephrase that. Author Danielle Lazarin had me by the end of the first paragraph.

“In Val’s bedroom before Arthur Binder’s party, I have one of my black boots on my left foot, and one of my dead mother’s shoes–oxblood leather, two-inch heel–on my right. “Which one?” I ask Val.”

That was from “Appetite,” the first of 16 short stories in this stunningly beautiful debut collection mostly about young women on the precipice of adulthood. The stories stand alone, but the themes are similar: self-discovery, sexual tension, surviving love and loss, coming to terms with sibling relationships and figuring out the friends who come in and out of your life.

Back Talk

Everyone will have their favorites, but one I liked a lot was “Back Talk,” the title of the book. Why? Because I knew that high school girl who loses her inhibitions at an alcohol-infused, parent-less party, that girl whose boyfriend wasn’t there, who made choices she will soon regret.

I also liked the first story, “Appetite.” A girl has gone through the trauma of losing her mother to cancer and processes grief differently from the rest of her family, and learns that life will be a mishmash of love and loss.

“Lover’s Lookout” was about a woman whose relationship with her boyfriend had fizzled, and what happened when she bumped into a random stranger during her daily run.

And “Dinosaurs,” in which the teenage Claire rebuffs her mother’s assumption that she will lose her virginity to her boyfriend.

“Claire sensed that her mother wanted all the ugliness of her daughter’s growing up over with, as though the pain she was sure to experience was best to happen quickly. Claire wanted these years before adulthood, ugly as they might be, to take their time. She wanted her mother to be wrong.”

Lazarin’s depth of feeling and expression make this collection a delight to read. Her stories are tender, poignant, and powerful all at the same time.

More, please!


One of my lucky readers will receive a copy of Back Talk. Please click on the Books is Wonderful Facebook page and leave a comment, and a winner will be randomly selected. US addresses only, please.

I received a copy of Back Talk from Penguin Books for an honest review,
which is the only kind of review I write.

If you love my work, please share it!