4 out of 4 stars
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Love and Fear is a collection of eight, nonfiction stories by Anne Elizabeth Nixon. The book is about seventy pages long.
In the opening story, “Flying Doctors into Mexico,” Nixon recalls her adventures in Mexico, where she volunteered as part of the patient education committee. Part of her duties included teaching “the village children how to brush their teeth while they waited in line to be treated…” Such patients “walked a day or more” for treatment, providing a subtle moment for reflection and appreciation for those of us with more fortunate circumstances. In “Scary Mountain Stories,” the author offers stories about her father, a mountain climber and hiker whose journeys on Mt. Rainier and the Goat Rocks Mountains are legendary. “To the Rescue,” a story about a near tragedy off of the Astoria Bridge, provides an example of “coincidences” in the author’s life that “were both eerie and marvelous.”
Overall, this collection focuses on extraordinary occurrences and the beauty of everyday life. It includes pictures, at times, from Nixon’s life to go along with the story. Written in the first person, she offers a range of tones that fit the theme and content of the stories. The delivery is matter-of-fact, humorous, or sentimental, as need be. I especially liked when the humor may have been unintentional, such as an explanation of how a Polaroid camera works. (It is 2017, after all.) As for sentimentality, in “A House I Remember” she presents a beautifully crafted line that speaks to the power of nostalgia: "I loved skipping down the gravel road and opening the gate that hung next to moss roses clinging to the wire fence."
Besides the tone, one of the most effective techniques the author utilizes occurs in “Car Repo at its Craziest!” She sets the scene wondrously. It is the Fourth of July. In the background, fireworks and cherry bombs are going off. Inside, people are gathered around casually, telling stories. Nixon does an outstanding job of immersing the reader into this environment. As she is conveying to the reader what is happening in the room, her husband is telling the people in the room a story that occurred in his life years before. She allows us to feel like we are one of the people in the room listening to him.
The only suggestion I have is that I kept mistakenly thinking that the captions under the pictures were the titles of new stories, especially if the picture was at the start of a fresh page. I would recommend making the story titles and picture captions look different, in terms of font size and boldness.
I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars. It was well written and genuinely interesting from beginning to end. The author has had a well-rounded life, including adventures in foreign places and at home. While the collection is written in the first person, the stories don’t really focus on herself. Instead, she uses her perspective as the lens through which to tell about the fascinating people she has encountered and the ones whom she loves. I would recommend this book if “love and fear” are emotions that you enjoy being able to relate to in the stories and lives of others.
Love & Fear
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