Following the abrupt departure of his fiancé, Josh Gibson falls into a spiral of loneliness and quiet desperation. Will the arrival of a mysterious package with a cryptic message send his life in a new direction?
This is definitely a short story with some of the faults you find in shorts. When you get to the end, there’s a wide open question of what happens next. However, do not let that stop you from reading this one. It’s a quick, interesting read.
The world building is minimal, due to the story taking place in a big city. There’s enough description to let you know this, but not enough to pin down which city. This can be both good and bad, depending on if you just have to know or not. The answer isn’t really relevant to the story, but I’m curious to know which city was the foundation for the one described.
The character building is nicely done. The main character has enough depth to make him believable, though the plausibility falls apart a little at the end. The support character is a little flat, but not a cardboard cut out. I think this is due to the format, not the writer’s ability. Freeman did a wonderful job building in character growth, despite the length.
And that brings me to the weakest part of this work. There is a beginning, a middle, but no real end. Short stories just don’t leave enough room to cover both the story and the character building in any depth. Coming Home tries, and while it does an adequate job, there is no sense of real closure at the end. I’m not sure if this is due to the short tying into a longer work somewhere, or if this is intended to be a serialized work of other short stories. Most of the questions do revolve around the solution of the characters, which is part of what makes me wonder.
The pacing in Coming Home is the strongest part. Despite being a short story, there is a natural ebb and flow of tension throughout. From the opening scene to the end there is no real sense of the story dragging, or being rushed. A few elements feel a bit implausible, but even then, they are introduced naturally, and fit into the overall rhythm of the work.
In the actual nuts and bolts of the writing itself, there were a few grammatical and punctuation errors, though not enough to detract from the overall readability. (I must be getting better at this – I’m not sure just how much they actually stand out, as these are issues I’m still dealing with, so hyper aware of.)
Overall, this was a solid 4 out of 5 stars. The docked star is for the open-ended nature of the conclusion. But, for a quick read over a lunch break, or for something to read just before turning off the light at night, this is one that would be a good fit.
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