In a small town, you are forever defined by the worst thing that ever happened to you. Maybe your mother died and you’re so angry still you see red every time you miss her. Maybe your best friend went missing, her body only found two years later. Maybe you almost lost your little sister when a stranger approached her in the woods. Maybe your mother and father refused to listen when you tried to tell them what happened to you at church every Sunday in the confessional.
And maybe what happens to define you in your small town has an echo. A ripple as your best friend reinvents herself as the girl every boy wants. An attempt at justice that leaves you lighter and sparks a fire in your wake. A missed connection as you cross paths with a volunteer firefighter in the evacuation center.
Maybe this is all there is. All anyone in your small town will ever know about you. But maybe you’ll still die famous because doesn’t everyone die famous in a small town?
Everyone Dies Famous in a Small Town (2021) by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock is a collection of loosely inter-connected short stories.
Starting in Alaska the stories follow teen characters across the Pacific Northwest and Alaska as their lives cross paths in the aftermath of a devastating abduction, a sexual abuse scandal at a small town church, and a forest fire that changes everything.
Shifting viewpoints and locations slowly come into focus as readers find the core of the book where each story is a spoke around one (or all) of these events.
Standouts in the collection include “Alaska was Wasted on Us” and “The Stranger in the Woods” which serve as interesting mirrors with the two possible outcomes in the face of a near tragedy (Fiona realizing how wrong she is about Finn and Jenny realizing how close her family came to losing sister Jade forever).
Fans of Hitchcock’s previous Morris Award nominated short story collection will enjoy the similar structure found in Everyone Dies Famous in a Small Town. Recommended for short story fans and readers of suspense.
Possible Pairings: Rural Voices: 15 Authors Challenge Assumptions About Small-Town America edited by Nora Shalaway Carpenter, This Raging Light by Estelle Laure, The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner
*An advance copy of this title was provided by the publisher for review consideration*