Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Book Review: "Half-Truths and Semi-Miracles" by Anne Tyler

"The first thing I tell people is, I'm just an ordinary woman. I'm just like you, I say, I can see they don't believe me."

When she was 17 years old, on what seemed like just a regular afternoon, Susanna discovered she had an exceptional ability. While caring for her aunt, who was suffering from a migraine, Susanna rubbed her forehead, and—amazingly—her pain was gone. She healed her.

Word of Susanna's ability travels fast, much to her chagrin. People begin to travel from near and far in the hopes that Susanna can heal them. But while people say that Susanna's power is God-given, she isn't quite sure. If God is granting her the ability to heal people, why does she fail sometimes? Is it her shortcoming, a lesson God is trying to teach her, or is the person somehow to blame?

The power to heal has changed Susanna's life profoundly. In this short story, famed author Anne Tyler paints a portrait of a woman shouldering an overwhelming burden. She cannot understand why she can't heal everyone, and why when she so desperately needs to call on her ability, she doesn't succeed, and it leaves her questioning why she was chosen to tread such an arbitrary, often thankless path.

Anne Tyler has been one of my favorite authors since the 1980s, so any opportunity to read her work is such a treat. Half-Truths and Semi-Miracles is poignant and compelling, and once again, Tyler has created a memorable character. However, the story was so short it almost seemed truncated. I wanted more time with Susanna, more time to share her struggles and see how her life was affected.

Even though I wish the story was longer, it's still a strong example of Tyler's storytelling talent. If you think about it, it's essentially a literary amuse-bouche to whet our palates until her new novel comes out in July! Can't wait!

NetGalley and Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group provided me an advance copy of the book in exchange for an unbiased review. Thanks for making this available!

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