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Bonds of Love & Blood

Relationships are very complicated. They can either make us feel secure or alienate us. They define us in many ways and also become the symbolic representations of inner worlds we must face all by ourselves if we have to transcend and reach out to the real, brutal world outside. The collection of stories, Bonds of Love & Blood by Marylee MacDonald, explores intricate relationships within and outside familial ties and their effects on individuals who are involved in them. What sets this collection apart is the dominating theme of the collection: Fractured, failed, dead or dying, estranged relationships. These ties are problematic and layered for they cannot be salvaged, but they have a certain degree of intensity and beauty that makes them open-ended and real.

Relationships are very complicated. They can either make us feel secure or alienate us. They define us in many ways and also become the symbolic representations of inner worlds we must face all by ourselves if we have to transcend and reach out to the real, brutal world outside. The collection of stories, Bonds of Love & Blood by Marylee MacDonald, explores intricate relationships within and outside familial ties and their effects on individuals who are involved in them. What sets this collection apart is the dominating theme of the collection: Fractured, failed, dead or dying, estranged relationships. These ties are problematic and layered for they cannot be salvaged, but they have a certain degree of intensity and beauty that makes them open-ended and real.

While every story has a startling way of revealing something new about ties of blood and love, the changing landscapes in each story set the stage for the physical and psychological odyssey of each protagonist. MacDonald’s rich narrative tone makes the reader yearn for some sort of peaceful resolution for the characters to overcome the distance and understand themselves and others. Emotional bridges are broken and rebuilt continuously over the pages, setting the mood for short, deep dramas.

A sister, alienated from her drug-addict brother, starts to lose herself among strangers. Love evades her as she comes to terms with her isolation and identity, and in a strange turn of events, when she could have moved on, she decides to write to her brother. A single mother tries desperately to raise an ideal son who gradually walks away from her. Instead of alienating him further, she decides to give in and bond with him. An independent, spirited woman who married out of necessity, suddenly finds the promise of unexpected liberation when her husband thinks of divorce. Yet, she finds it very hard to celebrate the possibility of separation. A woman parched with maternal feelings waits endlessly for her missing adopted son, yet when she finally has a chance to feel like a mother to an abandoned child, she gives him up to wait for the only son she loves.

At every turn, the characters walk through unpredictable terrain, learning new things about themselves and about the people they are involved with. What makes this collection stunning is the ability of each protagonist to realize what their hearts actually want, to understand that even if they are given the choice to break away or walk forward, they are willing to risk walking backward to the people who matter.

Thus, this collection is about all such unconventional elements, turns, and gaps in relationships we often take for granted. Some of these stories are our own stories, while some others belong to those of whom we know or have read about before. It is this sense of intimacy that makes this book a thoroughly enjoyable one, and the free flowing, straightforward narrative style urges the reader to realize, reminisce about, and discover uncharted aspects of a universal, human journey.

 

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