Wait­ing for the Cyclone

These sto­ries are peo­pled with un­con­ven­tional women nav­i­gat­ing be­tween free­dom and fam­ily ties.

Foreword Reviews - - Reviews Adult Fiction - RE­BECCA FOSTER

Leesa Dean Brindle & Glass Soft­cover $15.95 (224pp) 978-1-927366-50-9

The thir­teen sto­ries in Leesa Dean’s vi­brant

Wait­ing for the Cyclone range across the Amer­i­cas, de­pict­ing char­ac­ters who long for mean­ing­ful con­nec­tions and tem­po­rary es­capes from dis­ap­point­ing re­al­i­ties.

Ap­pear­ances are de­cep­tive in these tales: a driver and a hitch­hiker make as­sump­tions about each other based on looks, a con­fi­dent non­con­formist gets stuck in a sub­ur­ban rut, and true love of­ten faces hid­den com­pli­ca­tions. In the ti­tle story, the nar­ra­tor re­calls a trip to Coney Is­land with a for­mer boyfriend. Their shaky re­la­tion­ship, based on mis­taken iden­tity, couldn’t sur­vive an ill­fated ride on the Cyclone roller coaster.

Most of the sto­ries be­gin in Canada, but travel—if only through flash­backs—to the USA or Latin Amer­ica. Other coun­tries sym­bol­ize the fleet­ing chance to es­cape or­di­nary life: stay­ing with an un­cle’s fam­ily in Ari­zona briefly seems like a taste of nor­mal­ity for the twelve-year-old nar­ra­tor of “Malad,” while a one-night stand in Mex­ico gives Ali­son a respite from in­fer­til­ity strug­gles, in “Lib­er­tad.”

Snip­pets of Span­ish and French fla­vor many sto­ries with the diver­sity of the North Amer­i­can ex­pe­ri­ence. De­scrip­tions of nat­u­ral scenery add cin­e­matic depth, as with “snowflakes pix­e­late the night” and “the sky was all gun­metal clouds.” Nar­ra­tive voices are nicely bal­anced. “The Four Bradleys” splits the point of view four ways, re­flect­ing how a de­parted loved one leaves di­ver­gent mem­o­ries be­hind.

Moth­er­hood, es­pe­cially mothers sought and lost, is an­other ro­bust el­e­ment. In “Septem­ber,” a teenager takes a road trip to find the mother who left her on a church doorstep when she was an in­fant; in “Shel­ter from the Storm,” the main char­ac­ter can’t de­cide how to in­form her part­ner that she’s preg­nant. Yet the mother-child bond re­mains strong, with a mother’s sud­den ill­ness bring­ing the nar­ra­tor of “One Last Time” straight back from Mex­ico to Bri­tish Columbia. These themes are poignant, all the more so be­cause— as the ac­knowl­edg­ments re­veal—the au­thor’s mother passed away be­fore she could read the fin­ished book.

These sto­ries, peo­pled with un­con­ven­tional women nav­i­gat­ing be­tween free­dom and fam­ily ties, give an out-of-the-or­di­nary win­dow into con­tem­po­rary North Amer­i­can lives.

Moth­er­hood, es­pe­cially mothers sought and lost, is an­other ro­bust el­e­ment. In “Septem­ber,” a teenager takes a road trip to find the mother who left her on a church doorstep when she was an in­fant; in “Shel­ter from the Storm,” the main char­ac­ter can’t de­cide how to in­form her part­ner that she’s preg­nant.

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