Title: Good Girl by Holly Goddard Jones
Date Read: 15 September 2009
Available Online?: YES (as one of the stories posted by Harper Perennial on their website Fifty-Two Stories, which promises a new (or classic) short story from their collection, posted every week throughout 2009).
Briefly: Jacob, still raw from the fairly recent death of his wife Nora, is working towards coming to terms with his loss, while at the same time fighting to keep a parental reign on his son, Tommy. As time progresses Tommy becomes more of a stranger than a son, which only exacerbates Jacob’s feeling of loneliness. This is until someone new comes into Jacob’s life.
Afterthoughts: I seem to have read a lot of these ‘coming to terms with’ stories lately but this was one of the better ones. At just short of 10,000 words it was also one of the longest, but it did feel as though every word were needed. Although gritty, the story also manages to be warm and tender (which was a surprise given its beginning), with a man’s love for his son and his dearly departed wife perhaps producing the greatest source of tenderness in the story. Definitely not the most cunningly or cleverly scripted story in the world, it’s the emotional journey taken by the characters in Good Girl that makes this story a triumph.
Notable Quote: “He reached down to touch the dog, where she would normally have been sleeping beside him, and the emptiness of his life registered in full and aching force. “Nora,” he said, looking at her shadow figure on the old living room couch—head bent over one of the mysteries she loved reading, Agatha Christie or Sue Grafton, dark, shoulder-length hair glinting in the lamplight. She lifted her head at the sound of his voice, took off her glasses, smiled. Her face, the face she wore before the cancer and her death: gentle, intelligent, elegantly lined, like crackled pottery.”
*Story read as part of my 100 Shots of Short reading challenge.