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If there’s one word to describe how I felt reading this book, it would be surprise.
When I borrowed the ebook from the library, I thought it would be a memoir of sorts—I adore Tom Hanks, so it seemed like a perfect fit. Little did I know that it was a book of short stories.
“Tom Hanks? Writing short stories?” I thought. “Okay, America’s Sweetheart—I’m in.”
It took me a little while to get into the first story, mainly because I went in completely blind. But soon I was sucked in to each individual story, frantically flipping pages on my iPad, ready for the next page. There were a few recurring characters who I adored, but most of the stories weren’t connected—again, not what I was expecting. However, I really enjoyed reading about such vastly different walks of life.
When I was in high school, I took a class called Writer’s Craft. We basically wrote a little bit of everything, fiction and nonfiction. When we got to the short story section, my teacher drilled into me that the short story needs to have a point, a meaning.
Initially I was looking for a meaning for each of these stories, but when I got to the second or third story, I realized that not everything has to have this big, deep, significant meaning. A slice of life, walking a mile in someone else’s shoes—that can be just as significant as any deep personal meaning. And that’s exactly what Tom Hanks accomplishes here.
He has surprisingly beautiful prose—I immediately understood what he wanted to convey with each passage, and I understood the characters quickly. This is a necessary skill when it comes to short stories—you don’t have as much time to get to a character’s motivation.
Overall, I was pleasantly surprised by this collection of short stories. Tom Hanks drew me in, but the good writing and the characters made me stay. I hope he decides to come out with more short stories—or maybe even a novel—in the future.