Jay Winston Ritchie, 129 pages, Insomniac Press, insomniacpress.com, $19.95
Jay Winston Ritchie’s collection is made up of stories of young adults trying to find themselves. They search for themselves through music, travelling, work or relationships.
As you read, you find yourself identifying with at least one character, whether it is the young woman torn between reminiscing about her boyfriends in high school and doing the annual fish-stocking ritual she does with her father every year, the young woman whose creative process is stalled while she is on a European soul searching trip, or the call centre employee who grows frustrated with his job and quits.
Jay Winston Ritchie crafts a very real world in each of his stories. The imagery is strong, and resonates with you. “MMM Bop” makes tangible the sudden feeling of a young woman and her frustration when she is in the bathtub. A sense of urgency compels her to run, even though “running is no longer an option— she had already left home and she didn’t have a credit card.”
Ritchie crafts characters that are believable because of their familiar realism. Each story has you posing an inquiry into your own soul and wondering: “Am I doing everything I can to become who I want to be?” The stories beg you to inquire how your identity changes and forms, and we come to understand the title’s message that no matter what we do, we cannot control every aspect of who we are. We just have to keep floating. (Christine Smith McFarlane)