Well hi there, internet. It’s been a little while.
I’m planning to write a post explaining where I’ve been (which is to say nowhere exciting), but today is a good day for a book review. It’s a good day for a book review because the book in question, An Epilogue to Innocence, just released on July 10th and was written by Tim Baughman, a fellow blogger and my vlog partner in That Tiny Vlog Series.
It’s always a little scary when someone asks you to read their book. I obviously knew beforehand that Tim is a good writer as I’ve been following him for a few years now in his blogging endeavors, but you just never know how that will translate into book form. Fortunately, I had nothing to worry about. An Epilogue to Innocence is a really interesting, bold, and often dark look at the lives, thoughts, and struggles of the young adults who serve as the protagonists within its pages.
Books of short stories can go one of a few different ways and very often I personally find them disappointing. I’ve found that a lot of short stories will really whet my appetite in the beginning, but then end so quickly that I don’t feel like there was any strong conclusion. That is not the case with An Epilogue to Innocence. Despite their relative short length, each of these stories feels complete. Most of these characters feel like whole people with motivations, fears, and dreams that we understand despite not having chapters upon chapters to get to know them like we would in a full length novel.
The only stories that I didn’t personally connect with its characters were the first two in the anthology — “Ljepota Oni Izlučivati” and “Phosphor and Fear” both left me feeling a bit detached from the characters described. That is not to say that these two pieces were not well written, but I as a reader did not feel a connection to these as I did to the remaining pieces.
“A Delayed First Date” is funny, ironic, and features a situation that I found relatable as a young adult. It’s honestly something that I could see happening in my own life.
Possibly my favorite story (though it’s hard to choose) is “The Strongest Feelings Are On The Inside.” This is the longest entry in the book and it’s one of the most surprising and dark things I’ve read in a long time. This story begins on a tragic note when a young husband is left to mourn the death of his wife, but from there the story takes a number of twists and turns that will leave you shocked and somewhat horrified. I don’t want to give away too much, but it’s incredible. I would honestly love to see a film based off of it.
Another story I really appreciated was “Use As Directed.” This one, in my opinion, covered the broadest array of emotions of any of the stories. I found myself laughing out loud and feeling emotionally gutted all within the span of a few pages. This piece deals with mental illness and does it with grace and without exploitation.
Overall, An Epilogue to Innocence is a satisfying read that you can easily finish within a day or so, but will likely take longer than that to fully digest. There’s a lot of sadness and loss within these few pages, but there’s just enough optimism sprinkled in there to keep it from becoming too bleak.
Also, can we talk about how brilliant the title is? I wish I’d thought of that title!
If you’re not convinced yet, here it straight from the author himself: