Kelly Fordon’s I Have the Answer is a brilliant collection of short stories that offers poignant slices of suburban life. Each story examines a different facet of difficult relationships, of love, of loss, of life. Her characters are as rich as the world they inhabit, and each is unique while managing to be incredibly universal.
Everyone knows that relationships are complicated, but it seems no one knows more so than Fordon in these stories. Whether it’s parent-child dynamics changing as they get older, like in “Why Did I Ever Think This Was a Good Idea?”; adult friend groups learning to adapt to new jobs, kids, and other time demands, as the first-person plural narrators of “How It Passed” try to do; reacting to family members’ loss of sanity, as in “Jungle Life” and “Where’s the Baby?”; or simply trying to navigate the tumultuous life we all live, these stories capture facets human emotion and relationships so wonderfully that you can’t help but laugh and cry right along with them. They’re all seeking answers to the biggest and smallest of questions, just like all of us.
Though not all the stories are connected, there are occasional overlapping characters. This gives the reader the sense that each story is happening in its own home but on the same street, or in the same neighborhood. Each story’s cast is different and their narratives are diverse, but those small moments of connection—when you get to go, “Ah, I remember that character”—tangibly place people, families, and places in the world of the collection. It gives the reader the sense that the grass isn’t always greener once you know what the people in the house next door are going through as well.
This collection is perfectly timed—all of our shared experience in the pandemic makes us crave normalcy, but also validation that we’re not the only ones feeling the way we do. I Have the Answer is a perfect fill for that feeling. The stories go through a huge range of experiences, showing that there is a way to get through the every-day difficulties as well as the monumental events. There’s so much to be found in the pages of this collection, and thoroughly I enjoyed every page.
I Have the Answer is available from Wayne State University Press.
Bayleigh Kasper is a senior creative writing major at the University of Evansville. She dreams of owning a tiny home in Colorado where she can adopt cats, make music, write, and eat very judge-worth amounts of chocolate without actually being judged.
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