As a book blogger, I’m fortunate to review all sorts of books. Popular books, (relatively) unknown books, controversial books, and many others. When I learned that I would get to review Shout Her Lovely Name by Natalie Serber, I was especially excited because this work had been generating a good deal of buzz and had even been reviewed by the New York Times (review here). Additionally, it is a collection of short stories, which are a slight rarity here at Reflections. With this in mind, I dove right in!
In this collection of short stories Natalie Serber focuses on the often complex mother/daughter relationship as the common thread that links these tales. The majority of these stories involve a mother/daughter couple named Ruby and Nora. The pair live in California, and the stories chronologically follow their lives, beginning with Ruby as a college student and moving through her life, eventually detailing Nora’s life as a teenager. Although they can be read alone, taken as a group the Ruby/Nora tales could also be read as a novella. Serber has us follow the two through teenage rebellion, love, angst, and a whole host of other emotions as these two women assert their identity. Three other short stories are dispersed throughout the work, following the theme of mother/daughter relationships, but expressing it in quite different tones than Ruby and Nora’s tale. In all, the stories explore what is typically a complex and layered relationship in most women’s lives, and it lays plain the high and low points that often result from such a relationship.
I must commend Serber on taking on such a complex and varied topic. As a daughter myself, I know that the relationship between a daughter and mother is extremely important, and I think it was interesting how Serber showed how much influence a mother can have over the choices a daughter makes in her lifetime. She excellently displayed the good times and bad, not pulling any punches and telling it like it is. My only complaint is over the flow of the novel; once I got invested in Ruby and Nora’s story I thought it was odd that one of the short stories that didn’t involve them was located smack dab in the middle of the Ruby/Nora stories. I think that relocation or perhaps an offshoot of solely Ruby/Nora stories would have been better. Nonetheless, Serber’s works are spot on and definitely poignant and applicable to women around the world. If you haven’t already done so definitely read this book, and take a good look at your own mother/daughter relationships. They’ll be all the more better because of it.
4 out of 5 Stars
Shout Her Lovely Name by Natalie Serber
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (2012)
Hardcover: 240 pages
Special thanks to Houghton Mifflin for my review copy!