All These Wonders was pretty much universally loved in reviews over at Goodreads, so I was excited to request a review copy (thanks, Blogging for Books). It’s made up of a series of short stories which were presented as talks in programs known as “The Moth.” Apparently “The Moth” is a large phenomenon of which I’d been unaware; an organization that promotes oral storytelling. I figured these would be stories kind of a la “Chicken Soup for the Soul,” but maybe with a more literary bent. I decided to read one each day to the family after dinner.
And, quickly I decided that wasn’t the greatest idea. Many of the stories contained profanity, incidences of drug use, promiscuity, and other issues I wasn’t comfortable reading about out loud. I surmised that I wasn’t the target audience for this book. The publishers were probably aiming at an urban chic millennial. For instance, in one story, the author tells us that she grew up privileged, but then in her 20s “started noticing things like poverty and racism and unconscionable injustice … I came to the conclusion that the thing I needed to do with my privilege and all the comfort I’d had in my life was to destroy it. Rip it in half. Spit on it. $%&@ on it. Set it on fire.”
So, yeah. This was really not the type of reading fare that appealed to me. If you’re of a liberal persuasion, you may love it.
There were a few riveting stories: a mom describing life with a severely disabled son. A guy who ended up involved in a sting operation arresting his neighbor, who was — surprise, surprise — a serial killer.
Then there were some which just didn’t ring true to me at all: in one story, a boy from an Indian immigrant family discusses wishing as a teen that he were white. A white girl asks him to prom, but when he shows up at her house for photos, he finds another guy there to be the girl’s date instead of him. Her parents tell him that they’re taking photos for their Ohio relatives, and he “just wouldn’t fit” (ostensibly because of his race). Umm — seriously? Because I have lived in the “conservative” Midwest all my life, and I cannot even fathom such a thing ever happening. I should note that the author appears to be in his 20s now, so this was something that happened fairly recently too.
Yes, this book was one I was quite ready to say goodbye to.
Have you read this book? If so, I’m really curious to hear what you thought.