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Scenario A: You are a twenty- or thirty-something aging hipster looking for an enjoyable read that will validate your social ineptitude. Congratulations, here is a book for you.

Scenario B: You are seeking out a book of stories of surprising emotional content that is both balanced and of consistent quality. Sorry, move along.

The stories that make up Jonathan Messinger’s Hiding Out are imminently relatable, honest, and, at times, genuinely touching. Unfortunately, they are also often predictable and laden with emotional tropes that sabotage what would otherwise be a very decent debut. Some stories fall flat–“We Will All Write a Poem,” for example, comes off as a largely unsuccessful foray into what could be classified as Magical Realism Light–but others shine. “Captain Tomorrow” and “The Birds Below” stand out in particular as well-written and believable lossof- innocence tales that will cause your heart to break for your inner child, and “Not Even the Zookeeper Can Keep Control” is a delightful farce that hits its mark. Also of note are Rob Funderburk’s illustrations, which are a perfect match for the tone of the text. Overall, Hiding Out is a charming read, but unless you have yet to figure out that, in the world of interpersonal communications, we often fail, you will find nothing new here. (Sara Plourde)

Fiction, 183 pgs, by Jonathan Messinger, $13.95, Featherproof Books, 2754 N Artesian Ave. #2, Chicago, Illinois, 60647, featherproof.com

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