February 15, 2016

Holding Fire: Short Stories of Self Destruction

Holding Fire is a collection of ten short stories about self-destruction written by various authors and with introduction by Scott Hughes.
  • Running with Guilt by Maggie Stancu was about Vic, a girl consumed by hate for her ex-boyfriend. Told in the first person perspective, this story was chronicled by the hour and by the day beginning with a heinous act committed by the narrator which led to total self-destruction.
  • Dog Eat Dog by Joy Meehan was about Pam, who seems to hate everything and everyone. She made things extremely difficult for her team who looked up to her for supervision and leadership. She liked intimidating people and she got satisfaction from seeing other people suffer. Her goal was to see every single member of her team break. There was Victor, there was Louise, there was Odelia, but then, there was Elaine.
  • Death's Door by Chris Chan was about the murder of an aging playboy while on a ski trip with four other people. With not so short list of people who hated the murdered guy, who could possibly hate him the most as to stab him through the heart?
  • Vindictive by Isobel Sheene was about Jordan who wanted to exact revenge on the guy who apparently raped his sister.
  • The Unsuspecting Nature of Grief by Jessica Phillips was about a widow who came face to face with the guy who killed her husband and searched her heart for the hatred that burned within her for years.
  • Do Seconds Even Matter? by Tayah Reed was about Lana, whose mother was suffering from undiagnosed serious mental disorder that led her to do the unthinkable. Burdened by the guilt of not doing anything to prevent it from happening, Lana hated herself and started to act irrationally which made her feel scared that she might end up exactly like her mother.
  • Life is a Great Teacher by John Mallon was about Rebecca Redmond and her husband Brian, who was accused of trashing his mother-in-law's car. Though Brian has been between jobs, he was sweet and kind and she could not picture him smashing her mother's car, in fact, Rebecca could not comprehend why her mother hated Brian so much.
  • Burden of a Soldier by J.B. Rice was about Thaddeus who witnessed the killing of his friend Conan by the order of Prince Eamon when he was just a boy. Laden with guilt for not helping his friend, disgust for the villagers who just stood by and hatred for the prince who ordered his friend's execution, Thaddeus eventually left the village and lived in the city. He met Romulus who promised to help him avenge the loss of his only friend. 
  • Ghostwriter by Kristi Hudecek-Ashwill was about Colton Price who wanted to be a popular author but was not talented enough to get published. He hired ghostwriters to do the writing for him. One of his ghostwriters was his sister-in-law, Lucy Albers who eventually changed her mind and refused to give him the final part of the novella she wrote for him.
  • My Name is Finn by Julieanne Swiatczak was about Finn Montgomery who was physically and verbally abused by his own parents. For someone who has been told that he was not supposed to be born, the only ray of sunshine came in the form of Kelly Brinkman. Finn was finally happy until an incident drove him to ultimate self-destruction.
This book showed us, in various ways, how hate of others can easily turn to hate of self that may lead to self-destruction. No matter how much we try to be nice to indifferent neighbors and co-workers and kind to inconsiderate relatives and family members, we need to accept and admit that we get hurt and the pain we feel sometimes turns to hate. However, it is up to us how to handle this undesirable feeling. We can let it consume us and lead us to self-destruction or learn to forgive those who wronged us, forgive ourselves and strive harder to be better people.

These stories portrayed not only hate, envy, greed, abuse and guilt but also forgiveness, joy and love. The authors have each his own style of writing but all of them are engaging. I was actually surprised to find out that some of them are actually too young to have written about such profound subject with life-changing message.

In view of the above, I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars and I recommend it to readers who prefer serious subjects. This book may shed light to those whose hearts are blinded by hate and rage.

Check out Holding Fire at Online Book Club

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