BY LIGHT WE KNEW OUR NAMES by Anne Valente
This treasured collection of short stories gripped me from the very first story. I should warn you beforehand, this is not an easy book to swallow. Some of the stories are really hard-hitting and will tear you apart in a million pieces. But nevertheless, if you are feeling brave one day, I strongly encourage you to give this collection a try.
Valente is a poet. Her writing is in every word perfection and the way she crafts these beautiful stories is simply astounding. Not only can she be incredibly creative in imagery and symbolism, but the way she writes her characters—particularly the younger ones—is highly impressive. As someone who struggles very badly with short story collections, I began reading this one story a day but once I hit the forth short story, I couldn’t stop reading and flew though it. I usually struggle with short stories because I don’t find myself as invested into each story but this collection is perfection from the start.
Some stories have a strong sense of magic, while most remain realistic. What is amazing about some of the magical realism stories is that there is always room for speculation as to what’s what and whether it is “magical” or not. I love stories that offer you more than one interpretation and more then one way of looking at things so I have to really admire the fact that I took so much away from each of the stories.
The only reason why this book remains short of a perfect, five-star read is due one story towards the end that wasn’t nearly as gripping for me as the rest of them were. While I did enjoy the ending of it, majority of the story remained a dull experience and was unfortunately not redeemable by the last three pages. Still, don’t let that deteriorate you from picking up this wonderful book. By Light We Knew Our Names is still a brilliant piece of art.
I should warn you, I’m bound to keep changing my rating from 4 to 5 stars as I keep mulling over some of the stories overtime. But there isn’t a single person I can think of that I wouldn’t recommend this collection to.
Rating – ★★★★☆