Having not yet read any of Ruth Ware’s work, I thought this short story, part of the HUSH Collection, might be the ideal launching point.
Brief and to the point, Ware is able to weave in some powerful messages as the pieces soon fall into place. Leah Reynolds and her family are fighting to survive, living in a war zone and forced to protect themselves when no one else will. Tasked with building a stone wall around their isolated home, Leah and her siblings work their hands to the bone in order to appease a father who loves them very much.
His constant counselling about safety does not go unnoticed as he shows the children proof of the bombed-out cities and schools on television. When the Reynolds home is rushed by the police, Leah and her family flee through the back door, worried what might happen to them. The confrontation is harrowing and a few are lost along the way, but Leah stands firm, hoping to help her father however he needs. When things take a significant turn for the worse, Leah makes the ultimate sacrifice, knowing that it will be the only way to save herself and honour the father who has placed his trust in her.
A chilling story that forces the reader to second-guess much of what they know. Recommended to those who love a story with multiple plot lines not always seen throughout, as well as the reader who needs a little time filler between larger reading projects.
As this is my first experience with Ruth Ware, I hoped for a positive experience. I have heard of her and seen many of the books she’s published, but never gotten around to reading them. Ware sets this piece in a nondescript community, but layers on the dread of what is taking place.
Leah Reynolds serves as the protagonist, ushering the reader through a panic-filled experience while the world seems to be crumbling around her. Seeking to stay safe, Leah accepts whatever is asked of her without questioning it. There is little time for backstory or growth, though one can only imagine how Ware might do it, given the time.
The group of secondary characters serve as blips on the map in this piece. They are essential parts, but little impact is made with any of them, save Mr. Reynolds. The story reveals itself fully in the final pages, as the reader pops their head up from the narrative Leah has offered throughout. It’s then that Ware’s themes and underlying message come to light. How a belief in something with blind faith can not only be dangerous, but tell a completely different story from reality.
Tossing around words like ‘fake news’ and ‘tunnel vision’ prove sobering, which forces the reader to reevaluate everything they hold dear. Released just in time (and with enough subtlety so as not to make it seem relevant) for people to consider their choice in America ahead of November 3, 2020. Brilliant, if I do say so myself.
The bottom line: Kudos, Madam Ware, for a great short piece. I will have to check out some of your longer work to see if it pulls me in with as much ease.