Certain writers know how to tug on the heart strings. Kergan Edwards-Stout is one of them. Having read his award winning debut novel, Songs for the New Depression, and cried a time or three, I expected nothing less with his follow up book, Gifts Not Yet Given, a collection of holiday-themed short stories. I was not disappointed.
Gifts are most often tangible, yet, the ones that make the most lasting impression usually are not and we receive them when we least expect, and often from complete strangers or from people we know but might not necessarily associate with as he points out in several of the stories; the high-powered businesswoman unhappy with her life whose gift comes from a lowly office worker, the elderly woman distraught at losing her family gets a message from a homeless woman, and the terminally ill man who receives a gift from an old girlfriend.
In Gifts Not Yet Given, Edwards-Stout's characters represent a cross-section of society; young, old, men, women, gay, straight, and transgender. His characters are real, fully developed and carry the reader along on the character's own journey while preparing the reader to receive their own gifts.
As Paul, the young man in the story The Cape, releases the sorrow and guilt he carried for so many years of losing friends and family, I came to realize I was Paul in so many ways. I had lost a partner and many friends over the years and carried with it some of the survivors' guilt common to many of us. It set me on the path to find true closure. And I found it.
When writing can affect the reader in such a way as I was, it is indeed the gift of good writing. Thank you, Kergan, for your gift.