Following her accident—in which her face is disfigured, requiring skin grafts from her legs—Whimsy has a hard time readjusting. She tries to cover her pockmarks with make-up, but is still cornered by jocks demanding to know what happened. And she has to relearn how to deal with people. Does her now-deceased roommate’s brother like her, or is he just clinging to Whimsy to avoid processing his sister’s death? Does the reporter who interviewed her as a human interest story actually like her, or does he feel sorry for her—or, worse, have some kind of messiah complex?
In this Shannon McLeod novella, the character of Whimsy navigates her new life, forced to renegotiate every aspect of it because of her accident: her scars, her guilt. Disinterested students in her class become indictments, interactions become fraught. In less skilled hands, this story might have crumpled under the weight of its own overwritten pathos, but McLeod’s touch is deft, negotiating the tightrope walk of observation and rumination without teetering. Thoughtful, well-crafted and engrossing. –Michael T. Fournier (Long Day Press, longdaypress.com)