Reviewed by Mary Katherine Calderini
Tell the World You’re a Wildflower by Jennifer Horne offers a delightful medley of women from all over the South. Horne has produced a book of stories as varied and unique as a real woman. Her stories range through ages and locations, but all of Horne’s women possess a genuine truth to them that will transport readers into the innermost workings of the characters’ thoughts and lives.
An engaging aspect of this book is the entwining nature of the stories. Although each story is its own and deals with its own protagonist, characters from previous or future stories might show up as a background character, best friend, enemy, cousin, or all of those combined. The interlocking aspect of these stories will keep the reader on his or her toes, searching for connections from story to story, finding how, just as in life, two people can be connected in the strangest of ways.
One of Horne’s stories, “Other People’s Dogs,” offers a look into the life of a woman who has just gone through a life change. She and her husband have purchased an old camp in the woods and intend to live the simple life away from the city. The story follows this decision, the reactions of the extended family, and the initial struggles they face. The conflict appears when the couple invites different friends to stay with them. Each friend brings his or her own dog, unleashing chaos into the woman’s life. The honesty throughout the story and especially with how the woman deals with the problem is both realistic and entertaining.
“Sandra,” which features the line used for the title, deals with strangers and the impact they can have on another life. In this story, an aspiring writer goes to the same cafe every day to work on her novel. She notices Sandra, a homeless woman, who also comes in every day, and strikes up a friendship with her. As the narrator grows accustomed to her meetings with Sandra, she is offered a different and colorful perspective on life through Sandra’s eyes and the events that surround her.
The final story in this book offers a great finale to the many wonderful stories within. “Trompe L’Oeil” uses the setting of a historic house to tie three women together. Each has a different story to tell and a unique voice in telling it, but all three are tied together by their shared history of the house. Through their stories, the reader witnesses a progression of time that encompasses change in attitude as well as history at large.
With its inviting stories, varied but engaging characters, and variety of settings, Tell the World You’re a Wildflower is a collection of short fiction that any reader will enjoy.
Mary Katherine Calderini, a senior English major / writing minor at the University of Montevallo and the 2011 recipient of the Lindsey Stricklin Senior Portfolio Scholarship, presented by the Alabama Writers’ Forum, is an intern at the Forum.