Book Review: So We Can Glow

This post is a couple weeks late, but I recently read Leesa Cross-Smith’s short story collection So We Can Glow. Actually, as I learned from Melanie at Grab the Lapels, this is a flash-fiction collection: most of the stories are just a few pages long. The stories in this collection feature women in moments of obsession, longing, and fantasy.

The book: So We Can Glow: Stories by Leesa Cross-Smith
Genre: Contemporary, short-stories
Rating: 5 stars out of 5

While the stories all center around similar themes, they are different enough from each other to make for a varied and interesting reading experience. So We Can Glow is a book about obsession, but the stories are also about loneliness, longing, grief, fear, fearlessness, and friendship. The stories also vary in tone – some are whimsical, some are heavy, and some are endearingly weird. That variety in theme and tone really worked for me: it made most of the stories distinct enough from each other to be memorable, and it also allowed me to experience a full range of emotions as I read through the collection.

And even though the stories in this collection are short, Leesa Cross-Smith made them unbelievably captivating in just a few pages. It normally takes me a while to “get into” any new story I’m reading, but with So We Can Glow I instantly felt connected to the characters and their worlds. The writing is lyrical, immersive, nostalgic and also super readable.

I also appreciated how the characters’ emotions are given validity no matter what. Even when the characters behave in challenging ways, Cross-Smith never judges her characters or goes into lengthy explanations to justify their behavior. Instead, she unapologetically shows her characters as they are in the brief moments of their lives that the stories capture. In this way, the collection kind of reminded me of Amber Sparks’ And I Do Not Forgive You or Miranda July’s No One Belongs Here More Than You, but Cross-Smith’s stories were much more compelling and accessible to me.

Finally, I want to mention that some of the later stories in the collection follow up on earlier stories. Continuity in a short story collection isn’t a necessity for me, but in this case I really appreciated the opportunity to follow up on old characters and to see their stories from new perspectives.

My overall impression was that the stories in this collection are beautifully written, emotionally evocative, endearing, and unapologetically authentic. I loved and highly recommend So We Can Glow, and can’t wait to read more of Cross-Smith’s work.

Author: Hannah Celeste

Hi! I'm Hannah, a book-blogger from the Northeastern United States. I enjoy reading many genres, cooking and baking, doing yoga, and spending time with my two cats.

11 thoughts on “Book Review: So We Can Glow”

  1. I love your note about accessibility. When authors play around it books, I appreciate their attempts, but if the book doesn’t reach a reader, what is it doing? I used to think an author can do whatever they want with their own writing, and I still think that, but I also don’t think such an author is being treated unfairly if their book fails to connect with an audience.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree completely with that. That especially resonates right now because I’m currently reading a novel where I can appreciate what the author is doing…but I’m also not exactly enjoying it either.


  2. This sounds so intriguing. I’m always a little wary of short stories – like you it takes me a little while to get into the headspace of the characters and then I can end up feeling dissatisfied when we leave them – but this sounds like it’s been done really well & is very immersive from the get-go. Great review!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you! I know what you mean about feeling dissatisfied leaving a character, especially in a short story collection where you inevitably end up liking some characters more than others! I’m still pleasantly surprised that this book worked so much for me hahah.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Melanie put this author on my radar and this newest release of hers was the one that instantly caught my attention- I’m glad to see you loved it, and I look forward to checking it out! So much of it appeals, from the brevity of the stories to the interconnectedness and strong characterization… Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

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