Blog Tour: We Need to Talk, Jonathan Crane

Book Review: We Need to Talk, Jonathan Crane

We Need to Talk, Jonathan Crane

Short Story Collection: We Need to Talk, Jonathan Crane

Blog Tour July 14, 2021

 

Sudleigh is a fictional town in the south of England. It’s people are normal. Ordinary. People that you might find in any town in any country. In his collection of intertwined short stories, though, Jonathan Crane brings the heart and heartaches of these people into the spotlight.

 

(Note, unless I miss my guess, this novel/collection is the outgrowth of the author’s Ph.D. thesis, which definitely raises the cool factor for me.)

 

The scaffold for We Need to Talk is the town of Sudleigh. A planned housing development attracts support and opposition. A young woman allows her ambitions to guide her actions. A musician returns briefly to his roots, seeing his former partner who now owns a carpet store. That partner looks to retire and give his store to his nephew who emphatically does not want it. A young man in his gap year creates a made-family with his roommates. Characters who are central in one story make cameos in others.

 

The scaffold, though, simply brings the characters together in time and place. What really connects them is how disconnected they are. A man who opposes the housing development is married to one of the local officials who supports it. The student in his gap year is alienated from his own family and struggles to understand his Chinese-speaking roommates. The ambitious young woman seems to be a friend to people when in reality she is stabbing them in the back and sabotaging their lives to advance her own career. The two musicians cannot bring themselves to talk about the circumstances that broke up their musical group. The nephew struggles with letting go of his dreams of being a chef in order to do the responsible thing for his pregnant girlfriend and their coming baby. A marginally successful author cannot find the words to break up with his domineering girlfriend, nor can he find the words to write a new book and secure tenure.

 

It’s easy to say that communication is critical in relationships. Sometimes, though, that communication is not just hard. It is emotionally fraught. How do you tell someone that you no longer want to be with them in a way that does not hurt them–or you? You probably can not. So, do you confront the issue head-on, or do you act out in ways that might make the other person want to break up with you, thus relieving yourself of the burden? We might objectively say that the latter approach is immature and ultimately more hurtful than the direct approach. We also might subjectively understand the reluctance to face the challenge.

 

If someone believes you to be their friend, do you use that friendship to your own benefit? If your spouse stands for something you wholeheartedly oppose, can your relationship survive? If your family is convinced you will fail, is there any proof of success that will change their minds? If you gave up your dream to be a responsible husband and father, are you doing your nephew a favor by offering him that same choice? And if you are dreaming of a creative career in a financially uncertain field, do you have the right to choose your own dreams and ambitions over the security available in a lucrative but potentially soul-sucking shop?

 

We Need to Talk is sometimes wickedly funny, often emotionally poignant, and consistently thoughtful and introspective. Readers will be startled at how often the residents of Sudleigh morph into their own neighbors, their own families, and even their own selves.

 

We Need to Talk, Jonathan Crane We Need to Talk, Jonathan Crane

Our thanks to Emma Welton of Damp Pebbles Blog Tours for our copy of We Need to Talk, given in exchange for our honest review. The opinions here are solely those of Scintilla. For other perspectives on this book, check out the other bloggers on this tour.

 

We Need to Talk, Jonathan Crane

Book Review: We Need to Talk, Jonathan Crane

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