Trip Wires

San­dra Hunter

Foreword Reviews - - Reviews - KATIE ASHER

Leapfrog Press (JUNE) Soft­cover $14.95 (176pp) 978-1-935248-97-2

San­dra Hunter’s Trip Wires is a col­lec­tion of short sto­ries about the hor­rors of war, refugee ex­pe­ri­ences, priv­i­lege, and racism. Nar­rated by chil­dren and young adults, each story has themes of pro­found hu­man con­nec­tion, love, and un­speak­able loss.

“A Nige­rian in Paris” is jar­ring and un­com­fort­able, fo­cus­ing both on a refugee’s past in his home coun­try and on his present as a re­cent ar­rival in France. De­tailed mem­o­ries of his fam­ily (his fa­ther’s arms, his mother’s face) wash over him as he nav­i­gates his new re­al­ity. Re­minders of their lives and deaths are con­stant. As he nar­rates, the young man’s sad­ness is vivid and pal­pa­ble. Each fa­mil­iar rit­ual or ob­ject in­vites waves of re­flec­tion; each for­eign ex­pe­ri­ence is a re­minder of how out-of-place he is.

Here and else­where, metaphor­i­cal prose is abun­dant, achiev­ing a po­etic qual­ity while evok­ing pro­found emo­tions and cre­at­ing life­like char­ac­ters. Racism, clas­sism, and in­jus­tice are cap­tured in ways that ig­nite jus­ti­fied feel­ings of rage.

In “Against the Stranger,” an Amer­i­can sol­dier makes friends, al­beit re­luc­tantly, with an ado­les­cent boy dur­ing the war in Afghanistan. Find­ing com­mon­al­ity in their skin color, they quickly form a mu­tual af­fec­tion. Mem­o­ries of the sol­dier’s home life weave in and out of small mo­ments with the young boy, and their dif­fer­ences, which at first seem so ap­par­ent, blur. Quick, short sen­tences move the story along.

Con­ver­sa­tional struc­tures stand out in these sto­ries; they are fast, and are set apart with dashes for re­al­is­tic back-and-forths. Run-on sen­tences and a lack of punc­tu­a­tion add fur­ther em­pha­sis.

Trip Wires is a beau­ti­fully writ­ten col­lec­tion, both po­etic and melan­cholic. Deeply mov­ing, and of­ten grim and un­com­fort­able in their con­fronta­tions of unimag­in­able tragedies, each story evokes a bold, emo­tional re­sponse.

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