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Shout Her Lovely Name

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"Coming of age is a painful and beautiful experience in Natalie Serber's hands. These are funny and poignant pieces, building a book that feels novelistic in sweep, yet true to the precision and direct aim of the short story. A real pleasure." —Antonya Nelson Mothers and daughters ride the familial tide of joy, regret, loathing, and love in these stories of resi "Coming of age is a painful and beautiful experience in Natalie Serber's hands. These are funny and poignant pieces, building a book that feels novelistic in sweep, yet true to the precision and direct aim of the short story. A real pleasure." —Antonya Nelson Mothers and daughters ride the familial tide of joy, regret, loathing, and love in these stories of resilient and flawed women. In a battle between a teenage daughter and her mother, wheat bread and plain yogurt become weapons. An aimless college student, married to her much older professor, sneaks cigarettes while caring for their newborn son. On the eve of her husband’s fiftieth birthday, a pilfered fifth of rum, an unexpected tattoo, and rogue teenagers leave a woman questioning her place. And in a suite of stories, we follow capricious, ambitious single mother Ruby and her cautious, steadfast daughter Nora through their tumultuous life—stray men, stray cats, and psychedelic drugs—in 1970s California. Gimlet-eyed and emotionally generous, achingly real and beautifully written, these unforgettable stories lay bare the connection and conflict in families. Shout Her Lovely Name heralds the arrival of a powerful new writer. www.natalieserber.com  


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"Coming of age is a painful and beautiful experience in Natalie Serber's hands. These are funny and poignant pieces, building a book that feels novelistic in sweep, yet true to the precision and direct aim of the short story. A real pleasure." —Antonya Nelson Mothers and daughters ride the familial tide of joy, regret, loathing, and love in these stories of resi "Coming of age is a painful and beautiful experience in Natalie Serber's hands. These are funny and poignant pieces, building a book that feels novelistic in sweep, yet true to the precision and direct aim of the short story. A real pleasure." —Antonya Nelson Mothers and daughters ride the familial tide of joy, regret, loathing, and love in these stories of resilient and flawed women. In a battle between a teenage daughter and her mother, wheat bread and plain yogurt become weapons. An aimless college student, married to her much older professor, sneaks cigarettes while caring for their newborn son. On the eve of her husband’s fiftieth birthday, a pilfered fifth of rum, an unexpected tattoo, and rogue teenagers leave a woman questioning her place. And in a suite of stories, we follow capricious, ambitious single mother Ruby and her cautious, steadfast daughter Nora through their tumultuous life—stray men, stray cats, and psychedelic drugs—in 1970s California. Gimlet-eyed and emotionally generous, achingly real and beautifully written, these unforgettable stories lay bare the connection and conflict in families. Shout Her Lovely Name heralds the arrival of a powerful new writer. www.natalieserber.com  

30 review for Shout Her Lovely Name

  1. 4 out of 5

    lucky little cat

    An emotional roller-coaster as we watch promising young women (and some older ones, too) just fling themselves out there into trouble, "Heroine" by graphic artist Hayley Gay usually by falling in love with the wrong people (too self-centered, too irresponsible, too darned reliable, or even a smidgen too smelly); falling pregnant when they don't want to be; or all of the above. Exhilarating, shattering, and ironic by turns. The last story is easily my favorite; the first story is my least. Funny, because both stories featur An emotional roller-coaster as we watch promising young women (and some older ones, too) just fling themselves out there into trouble, "Heroine" by graphic artist Hayley Gay usually by falling in love with the wrong people (too self-centered, too irresponsible, too darned reliable, or even a smidgen too smelly); falling pregnant when they don't want to be; or all of the above. Exhilarating, shattering, and ironic by turns. The last story is easily my favorite; the first story is my least. Funny, because both stories feature mothers and their children scrambling to control their lives. Story #1, "Shout Her Lovely Name," is a mother's journal of the many ways she tries to help her anorexic daughter. Yes, it's a serious topic, and no, this story doesn't tell you one thing you didn't already know. But the other stories are unpredictable, and the last, "Developmental Blah Blah" shows Cassie, a "perfect" society mom who plans for her family incessantly and fantasizes that just one stinkin' time they'll (view spoiler)[notice her. Instead of assuming her love for them is easy and inexhaustible. (hide spoiler)] That being highly unlikely (they're normal, for goodness' sake), she fantasizes alternately about (view spoiler)[ sleeping with her therapist. At least he listens to her. If only it weren't for money. (hide spoiler)] Sigh. Many of the stories center on mothers and daughters, either their bonding or their showdowns. But you don't have to be a mother or daughter to enjoy. Human will do.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Will

    I was turned off by the title story of this collection. It recounts the trials of a mother confronting and guiding her high school age daughter through a bout of anorexia nervosa--delicate subject--written in imperative sentences. The tone worried me; I thought I might be in for two hundred pages of sentimental whining. Not the case. Most of the stories are linked to Ruby, the presumed anorexic girl mentioned above, and her daughter Nora, whose main challenges stem from the legacy of I was turned off by the title story of this collection. It recounts the trials of a mother confronting and guiding her high school age daughter through a bout of anorexia nervosa--delicate subject--written in imperative sentences. The tone worried me; I thought I might be in for two hundred pages of sentimental whining. Not the case. Most of the stories are linked to Ruby, the presumed anorexic girl mentioned above, and her daughter Nora, whose main challenges stem from the legacy of body image issues, tumultuous relationships with men, and alcoholism. The reader is allowed to fill in the holes of the two women's biographies: often 2-5 years pass between one story and the next, which is thrilling in its own way. Satisfyingly, as the two women make decisions (mostly about men), they manage to both surprise and confirm the reader's fears. You'll want to root for Ruby and Nora, and every misstep comes to feel like a personal failure. Serber has written two characters you'll get to know like family friends, and watching them change (or not) is like catching up with a distant relative at a family reunion. Though the stories that don't follow Ruby and Nora are just as carefully crafted as those that do, I selfishly wanted them to be cut for other titles with the growing characters. Something about their absence threw the pacing off for me, though this may be a personal problem. Regardless, they cover similar thematic ground and bridge the gaps of the book in pleasant ways.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Sally G.

    I rarely read Short Story collections. I'm not exactly sure why this is - but I tend to prefer investing reading time to a novel rather than what can feel like only a chapter. This book was brought to my attention via Oprah's Summer Reading List featured in the July issue of her magazine - and I almost passed it by (because it's a series of short stories) ~ and for whatever reason, I not only read through the book's summary, but also clicked through to First Pages Excerpt (I receive O Magazine via m I rarely read Short Story collections. I'm not exactly sure why this is - but I tend to prefer investing reading time to a novel rather than what can feel like only a chapter. This book was brought to my attention via Oprah's Summer Reading List featured in the July issue of her magazine - and I almost passed it by (because it's a series of short stories) ~ and for whatever reason, I not only read through the book's summary, but also clicked through to First Pages Excerpt (I receive O Magazine via my iPad)~ immediately purchased a Kindle version and finished the collection within days. Several factors motivated these actions. First, the excerpt shared really connected with me and I just HAD to read the story in its entirety to see how/if resolution was reached. (See for yourself, here: Shout Her Lovely Name First Pages) Next,9 of the 11 stories actually featured, in some capacity, two characters - providing slices of their lives in different time periods, highlighting their transformation as a result of history and/or life circumstances. Finally ~ this is a book about Mothers and Daughters -- some Mothers we only get to know as Mothers, one key character, Ruby, we experience as both - a daughter first, then a Mother, and also - as a woman finding her way. It's a story about women coming of age and how relationships in our lives, and the ways we choose to meet them, can create life paths that may or may not serve us - and how we then respond to that. I was grateful to have stumbled upon this book and rated it 9/10.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Obsesses over Books & Cookies

    I wouldn't call myself a Short Story person. I have this thing in my head where if I'm to open a book I want to be enveloped and in the knowledge that I'm going to be taken on a ride. I want a commitment. But like poetry where some speaks to you and you nod your head Yes- I get that, I know what the poet was feeling when she wrote that---You can sometimes read a short story and say wow- that packed a punch. Shout Her Lovely Name did just that. Each story drew me in and made me feel I wouldn't call myself a Short Story person. I have this thing in my head where if I'm to open a book I want to be enveloped and in the knowledge that I'm going to be taken on a ride. I want a commitment. But like poetry where some speaks to you and you nod your head Yes- I get that, I know what the poet was feeling when she wrote that---You can sometimes read a short story and say wow- that packed a punch. Shout Her Lovely Name did just that. Each story drew me in and made me feel like it was so much bigger and deeper than the 15 or so pages each story was. I was sad to see it end. How talented Natalie Serber is with her characters and their entire lives put on the page. Most of the stories involve Ruby and her daughter, Nora and the glimpses of their lives at various stages from the men they're involved with and the lifestyle choices for the times. There are a sprinkling of stories unrelated, a mother fretting over her teenage daughter's eating disorder to a wife coming to terms with letting her kids (walking in on sexual escapade) go while planning her husbands 50th and him getting matching tattoos with his son, to a woman on an airplane with her somewhat controlling husband dealing with her infant and another passenger who's a butthole. The stories are slices of life that burrow deep into a woman's heart. They are about struggles and female bonds and growing up and growing older and moving on with acceptance. I loved every story and it reminds me of the charms and loveliness of story in it's short form.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Lauren

    Serber's debut, a wonderfully spare collection of beautiful short stories is a delight to read! Readers who don't have a lot of time on their hands can read "Shout Her Lovely Name" in short snatches, but you'll want to read it all in one gulp!

  6. 4 out of 5

    rachel

    It is so rare, especially now when it seems like everyone has a story to sell, to find a book where no writerly wall exists between you and the story. Where the author doesn't seem to be trying to impress you with style, at least a little. I was more than three quarters of the way finished with Shout Her Lovely Name (which I devoured, comparatively, these days) before it struck me that recurring character Ruby is not a real person. You can ascribe that feeling to characterization that speaks truly of the h It is so rare, especially now when it seems like everyone has a story to sell, to find a book where no writerly wall exists between you and the story. Where the author doesn't seem to be trying to impress you with style, at least a little. I was more than three quarters of the way finished with Shout Her Lovely Name (which I devoured, comparatively, these days) before it struck me that recurring character Ruby is not a real person. You can ascribe that feeling to characterization that speaks truly of the human experience -- its deep chasms and small bursts of hope -- sure. But I was even more impressed by Natalie Serber's ability to be transparent while breaking my heart. One of my writing professors used to say to our class of wannabe prosers that this is the highest achievement of an author: to write fiction well without drawing a reader's attention back to you. (We, for the most part, failed at this. It's hard.) Shout Her Lovely Name also connected with me deeply on a personal level. The women in these stories struggle with unmet expectations -- for insecure motherhood, for their mostly ill-matched men, for their bodies. My nineteen year old cousin is pregnant, forced to drop out of full-time college for now and finish very slowly through online courses as she and her boyfriend raise their child. While their relationship is stable, her situation has made me somewhat obsessed with examining the ways that I'm reckless in my own relationship, which is newer but less stable. How easily my life could be thrown askew by an "accident." My own fallout, though, would be more like single mother Ruby's, not my cousin's. Shout isn't a preachy sort of book, but Ruby's arc ends exactly at the quiet loneliness it started with. That seems about right. This book makes me excited about not just reading, but writing again. These stories are what I hoped I'd write before desk jobs sapped my enthusiasm for extracurricular creativity. And to think that at first I just picked it up for the pretty cover.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Kari

    This group of short stories is a beautiful read that should be part of any women's studies college course. Estranged daughters, attached mothers, women learning about life and strength and change. The story about the airplane felt like Serber snuck into my postpartum head and stole my thoughts and emotions right out from me. Do you have a mother? Then you should read this book.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Erica

    My original plan had been to cross-review this with Blueprints for Building Better Girls: Fiction which I'd started reading around the same times I'd started reading this. This, however, I read during my half-hour lunch breaks so it took me a really, super, amazingly long time to get through it whereas I read the Blueprints book at home in, like, five days and now I've forgotten what I was going to say to compare the two, other than both are books of short stories that explore relationships female My original plan had been to cross-review this with Blueprints for Building Better Girls: Fiction which I'd started reading around the same times I'd started reading this. This, however, I read during my half-hour lunch breaks so it took me a really, super, amazingly long time to get through it whereas I read the Blueprints book at home in, like, five days and now I've forgotten what I was going to say to compare the two, other than both are books of short stories that explore relationships females have with other people, specifically mother/daughter relationships. So, instead, I'll just give my thoughts on this book and then go write the review for that book and it won't be half as clever and erudite as I'd planned. This book. Because I'm not an artistic-thinking individual, I was confused by the layout of this book. Now, I must remind you that I was reading this during lunch breaks and was often interrupted in my reading so it took me three stories to realize that I was reading about the same girl named Ruby. I was thrown off because the first story, "Shout her lovely name," is about a nameless mother whose nameless daughter is suffering from an eating disorder and they're trying to navigate teenagehood and parenthood around this serious illness. But then the next story, "Ruby Jewel," starts in with the Ruby stories. She's a teen coming home from college and having to deal with her drunk father and her distant mother after having tasted her own life for a semester, or however long it's been. Then there are two more Ruby stories, then a story about a woman on a plane with her husband and their baby. Then it goes back to Ruby stories, only now Ruby has a daughter named Nora. Slowly, we move into Nora stories and then the book ends with a woman named Cassie who has two teenage children and they are planning a birthday party for the soon-to-be-50-year-old dad. The end. Why was this book set up that way? Why were the bulk of stories about Ruby and then Nora, making a sort of novel, only to have the stories bookended and bisected by unrelated stories? I mean, I get that ther reader gets to know Nora after the woman on the plane (not snakes on the plane) story, but why are the three non-Ruby stories random, as in they are not about anyone related to the Ruby stories and they don't seem related to each other, either. I do not understand what I'm supposed to get from that. The stories were fine. I didn't really connect with any of them. I'm not a mother. I am a daughter, but I didn't connect on that level, either. Ruby is a teen in the 70's, I believe. I was a little kid in the 70's. My experiences were way different, even if I did recognize the environment. Nora's childhood wasn't totally different from mine, but dissimilar enough that I didn't really sympathize with her, either. It was like I was just watching these people in these stories, never truly feeling their feels. Even so, the stories are well-written and describe moments of life that are worth reading about. They explore relationships women have with other women, with their mothers, their daughters, with siblings and friends, with men and I always find such things interesting.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Book Him Danno

    I have to be honest, I tried to finish this book but I just couldn't do it. This book, albeit interesting and extremely real, dropped the F-word way too many times for me. I tried to ignore it, but after ignoring it over and over again, the F-word was paired up with taking the Lord's name in vain. I shut the book and was done. I honestly don't understand the need to include vulgarities such as this. It does nothing to further the story. I would love to finish this book sans the F-word. I was ta I have to be honest, I tried to finish this book but I just couldn't do it. This book, albeit interesting and extremely real, dropped the F-word way too many times for me. I tried to ignore it, but after ignoring it over and over again, the F-word was paired up with taking the Lord's name in vain. I shut the book and was done. I honestly don't understand the need to include vulgarities such as this. It does nothing to further the story. I would love to finish this book sans the F-word. I was taken in by the honesty of the book, the reality of her stating people’s deepest thoughts out loud. These thoughts that we would never want to admit to having. It is truly fascinating. Thank you Heather for this review. **As a response to a question from the publisher about my review of Shout Her Lovely Name, I decided I needed to clarify my post and why I rated it only One Star. I should note that I read about a third of the book. The first story had language that bothered me a little bit. I thought that the stories themselves were very interesting and I honestly think I would have enjoyed them if it weren't for the language. I rate the first story two stars. It was a fascinating look into a mother's perspective of her child's struggle with anorexia. It gave us a glimpse of her thoughts of this hardship and how she blamed herself for the hardships anorexia put the family in. I give the second story three stars. I enjoyed the second story about Ruby and her struggle to accept an unwanted pregnancy. She smokes, drinks and basically tries to have a "natural miscarriage." We follow her intimate thoughts about whether she will keep the baby, stay with her absent boyfriend, or make her way on her own. It is a good story. I realize that this story is continued in the book, but I have not read the rest of it. The third story I rate one star. Having suffered from post postpartum depression myself, I related to the woman in the third story about her thoughts as she boards an airplane with her newborn son. She thinks about dropping the baby over the banister and how she honestly doesn't care about what is going on around because all she can think about is her annoying sucking child and her hurting nipples. She thinks about these types of things, but doesn't voice them for fear of her husband overreacting. This is why I was so disappointed to have to put the book down. I felt connected to the women and wanted to get to know her more, but I could not ignore the vulgarity. I do not use or even think that kind of language, and I do not want to hear or read it. As a general note about the book, while I appreciated the stories I read, I had a difficult time discerning when one story started and another ended. I would rather have had a more clear cut ending and start to the stories. I found myself flipping back to find out who the character was I was reading about only to realize I had started a different tale. It is possible that if I finished the book all the stories would come together nicely but with the difficulty I had from this as well as the vulgar language, I couldn't finish the book and I can only give the book (the 1/3 I read of it) one star. -Heather

  10. 5 out of 5

    Juliet

    For years, I was convinced that I didn't like short stories. One too many forced marches through weighty anthologies had left me believing that the genre was limiting and vaguely unsatisfying. Thank goodness I persevered and found out just how powerful the medium can be in the right hands. A perfect example of this is Shout Her Lovely Name, the stunning debut collection by Natalie Serber. Serber's short stories are sometimes sad, sometimes sweet, but always truthful and achingly familiar. They'r For years, I was convinced that I didn't like short stories. One too many forced marches through weighty anthologies had left me believing that the genre was limiting and vaguely unsatisfying. Thank goodness I persevered and found out just how powerful the medium can be in the right hands. A perfect example of this is Shout Her Lovely Name, the stunning debut collection by Natalie Serber. Serber's short stories are sometimes sad, sometimes sweet, but always truthful and achingly familiar. They're connected by the theme of mother-daughter relationships in all their fierce, messy, elemental forms. The rich details conjured up memory after memory for me, from both sides of that relationship. Eight of the eleven stories center on a woman named Ruby, whom we meet as she is visiting her parents after being away at college for the first time. She's trying to break away from her parents' sad relationship and her mother's apparent resignation to it, at one point blurting proudly, "I have a boyfriend now. He buys me flowers." She's convinced that her mother's fate will not be her own. As the connected stories progress, Ruby finds herself pregnant and raising a daughter, Nora, on her own. The stories follow Ruby and young Nora: first as a young girl idolizing her mother, then beginning to see Ruby's failings through the eyes of others, then as a teenager looking for validation, and finally as a college student looking to break away herself. In the story Plum Tree, Ruby tries to share her hard-earned wisdom and experiences with her teenage daughter, but Nora isn't listening: "She wanted to make her own new and unique mistakes. She was nothing like Ruby." While I loved the Ruby/Nora storyline, my two favorite stories in the collection were outside that narrative. In the title story, "Shout Her Lovely Name," a mother describes, in journal format, her daughter's heartbreaking descent into an eating disorder. Serber manages to convey the mother's fear, anger, guilt and helplessness with an astonishing compassion, and even humor, that moved me deeply. In "This is So Not Me," a young mother trying to meet the expectations of her older husband displays unexpected strength. Serber is skilled at creating a palpable sense of place and time as the stories move across the country and across decades. The highest compliment I can give the author, though, is that I went to bed after reading each night worried about these characters, as if they were people I knew. There wasn't a single character that I wouldn't want to read more about. Whatever form her next work takes, I'll be first in line to read it. This review was originally published at StoryCircleBookReviews: http://www.storycirclebookreviews.org...

  11. 5 out of 5

    Shelly Hammond

    This is a book I had won on Goodreads back in June of 2013. Having finally read it, I was pleasantly surprised by most of the stories within. When I first started reading it, I was afraid that it wasn’t going to be one that was going to make the good list but after reading a story or two, it became quite amazing. All the stories have some sort of mother and daughter link, even if only very remotely. The first story was well written but the end came on quickly and it was sort of a letd This is a book I had won on Goodreads back in June of 2013. Having finally read it, I was pleasantly surprised by most of the stories within. When I first started reading it, I was afraid that it wasn’t going to be one that was going to make the good list but after reading a story or two, it became quite amazing. All the stories have some sort of mother and daughter link, even if only very remotely. The first story was well written but the end came on quickly and it was sort of a letdown. I won’t say why but if you read it you will see and perhaps you will disagree (hopefully) but for me it left me feeling down. This gave me a bit of concern about what would follow. The next story began and I found myself setting the book down a few times so I wasn’t feeling it yet. However, when the third story began, it continued with the girl from the second story, Ruby, and after a page or two, I was hooked right on in there. The book became my best friend. I couldn’t part with it. The writing is really brilliant. The author has a writing style that is really all her own. It just flows on the pages as if she was born to get those words on that page. She switches to first person at one point in one of the stories (as Nora, Ruby’s daughter) and it’s a stroke of genius. Reading the lives of Ruby and her daughter was an incredible journey. It was seriously one of the most amazing ways of writing a book of this sort I’ve come across. I looked forward to what was coming next as it moved through their lives as they grew older. However, all good things have to come to an end and sometimes that end is abrupt, sad, and completely unexpected leaving you feeling empty and alone and that’s what happened here. The last story in the book happened. This last story had nothing to do with Ruby and Nora. It was a whole new cast of characters. It was hard to read after the excitement and thrill of the previous trip. I know a lot of people will love the last story because it embraced motherhood again and a mother dealing with her teenagers and so on but for me I just couldn’t put my heart and soul into their story after the previous story. Even though I did a mild drama queen moment there with the last story and will forever wonder about and spend many sleepless nights worrying about Ruby and Nora’s outcome, I still found that the authors writing style, storytelling ability, and the fact that she was able to bring about such strong emotional bonds with fictional characters makes this book well deserving of a full five star rating!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Melanie Greene

    http://dakimel.blogspot.com/2013/09/m... I mentioned about me and the short stories these days, right? Well, I'm still on that streak. And Serber's debut collection was immediate and open and real. Very "these people could be my neighbors." The title story in particular evoked the same "I'm not proud I thought it" feeling of gee, I'm so glad my kids are boys instead of girls I get sometimes when dining with my friends. Not that I'm unaffected by the complex and inextricably linked lines between mother and daughter - I am a daughter http://dakimel.blogspot.com/2013/09/m... I mentioned about me and the short stories these days, right? Well, I'm still on that streak. And Serber's debut collection was immediate and open and real. Very "these people could be my neighbors." The title story in particular evoked the same "I'm not proud I thought it" feeling of gee, I'm so glad my kids are boys instead of girls I get sometimes when dining with my friends. Not that I'm unaffected by the complex and inextricably linked lines between mother and daughter - I am a daughter, after all, and one who has shared an office with her mother for the past 20 years. (Hi, mom!) (Thanks for not being like Ruby in this collection, mom!) I particularly admire Serber's deft selection of telling details and shaping of key moments. She gave me a lot to dwell on and moments that stick clearly and vividly to my heart. I'm looking forward to reading more by her.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Kayla Tornello

    This was a collection of short stories that unfolded somewhat like a novel. I did find it odd that all but the first, last, and one middle story were about the same family. I tried to keep an open mind about that, and I did find myself enjoying the book. The struggles between mothers and children really spoke to me, although it also made me dread all the mischief that my own toddlers will inevitably fall into when they are older. The tone of the stories was neither uplifting, not dism This was a collection of short stories that unfolded somewhat like a novel. I did find it odd that all but the first, last, and one middle story were about the same family. I tried to keep an open mind about that, and I did find myself enjoying the book. The struggles between mothers and children really spoke to me, although it also made me dread all the mischief that my own toddlers will inevitably fall into when they are older. The tone of the stories was neither uplifting, not dismal, but instead seemed to suggest that real life is messy. The message I took away from this is that everyone just has to try their best, even if that doesn't feel good enough. I received this book as a first-read. Yay!

  14. 4 out of 5

    Leslie Wilkins

    I read this and participated in online discussions with the author via Goodreads' The Next Best Book Club (TNBBC). I really liked the writing, the relatable characters, and the storylines in this book, but I think I wanted it to be a novel. This is a collection of short stories, most of them about the same mother-daughter pair. Interspersed are stories that have nothing to do with those characters, though, which just kind of interrupted the flow. I don't want to say I wish the book ha I read this and participated in online discussions with the author via Goodreads' The Next Best Book Club (TNBBC). I really liked the writing, the relatable characters, and the storylines in this book, but I think I wanted it to be a novel. This is a collection of short stories, most of them about the same mother-daughter pair. Interspersed are stories that have nothing to do with those characters, though, which just kind of interrupted the flow. I don't want to say I wish the book had just been about Ruby and Nora, though, because it was the "one off" stories that were the most powerful to me, and that stuck with me after I'd put the book down. The author told us she's working on an actual novel now - I'll look forward to reading it.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Rosemary

    Nicely written assortment of short stories ... most of them about a mother-daughter trio at different stages and phases of their lives. I wasn't sure how the rare story that was NOT about Ruby or Nora necessarily fit in, but still liked the collection, overall.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jodell

    All the storys about Ruby and Nora are the ones I invested in. I wish the whole book could have been their story. I really wanted to know what happened with Nora and Ruby and thought maybe the first story connected them that maybe it was Nora's future daughter with the eating disorder. But I got to last story and it didn't connected not at all, I flipped the pages fast and furiously like what about Nora? Where is Ruby? It was an abrubt ending to their story and I was frustrated like I was left h All the storys about Ruby and Nora are the ones I invested in. I wish the whole book could have been their story. I really wanted to know what happened with Nora and Ruby and thought maybe the first story connected them that maybe it was Nora's future daughter with the eating disorder. But I got to last story and it didn't connected not at all, I flipped the pages fast and furiously like what about Nora? Where is Ruby? It was an abrubt ending to their story and I was frustrated like I was left hanging. I hope they get their own book dedicated to just them one day.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Mikhail Kadyrov

    I enjoyed the writing but I found myself totally lost particularly at the end of the book. I just couldn't seem to keep the characters straight or who was involved in which story. Might need to read again to see where I got lost. Almost didn't get through the beginning, still don't understand how this tied in.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Katie

    I’m a terrible short story reader. I fly through each one and move on whenI probably should spend more time digesting before consuming the next. Anyway, I really liked these short stories. I felt like the characters were vivid and came alive. It seemed as if you spent their whole life with them rather than a few pages.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Alissa Hattman

    This is a hauntingly brave collection of stories, full of resilient, imperfect women who don't let their past traumas define them. Put simply, I felt stronger and more willing to tackle the difficulties of life after reading this book. Thank you, Natalie Serber.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Isabelle | BookwyrmBites

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I really liked the first story, but 90% of the book followed another narrative that I wasn't as interested in. I can't blame the mother for wanting to keep her daughter, but that little girl would've been much better off if she'd been given up for adoption.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Laurie

    I liked this book. Wished she went on a little more with a couple of the stories, but enjoyed them.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Lauren

    The book was good from what I read. I just really couldn't get into it. The switching back and forth wasn't really for me.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Lorraine

    I really needed time to reflect on this novel before writing the review and the funny thing is, the long I sat with it the more I appreciated the storylines and the complexities of the characters. I started thinking about the complex relationship my mother & I had and then I started thinking about the relationship between my daughters & I... let’s not even go there.. But, I do know I do the best I can, and I bet my mother did too. It’s hard to love your daughter, and to do the best I really needed time to reflect on this novel before writing the review and the funny thing is, the long I sat with it the more I appreciated the storylines and the complexities of the characters. I started thinking about the complex relationship my mother & I had and then I started thinking about the relationship between my daughters & I... let’s not even go there.. But, I do know I do the best I can, and I bet my mother did too. It’s hard to love your daughter, and to do the best you can for her AND still try to love yourself. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ STARS

  24. 5 out of 5

    Lilian

    Originally Posted on A Novel Toybox: Natalie Serber took me by surprise and sent me on a heartfelt journey of family ties in her debut short story collection, Shout Her Lovely Name . Serber's prose reads like beautiful poetry, inviting the reader to fill in the story with its clues. Through these eleven character-driven, poignant short stories about mothers and their children, Serber displays versatility, humor, and tears. I am fully enamored with her writing, and pleasantly surprised that this is on Originally Posted on A Novel Toybox: Natalie Serber took me by surprise and sent me on a heartfelt journey of family ties in her debut short story collection, Shout Her Lovely Name . Serber's prose reads like beautiful poetry, inviting the reader to fill in the story with its clues. Through these eleven character-driven, poignant short stories about mothers and their children, Serber displays versatility, humor, and tears. I am fully enamored with her writing, and pleasantly surprised that this is only her debut. Writing Serber experiments with writing structure in her first story about a mother struggling to help her daughter fight an eating disorder while her husband is in denial; it is written almost like an instructional manual combined with a monthly journal. I could imagine a mother documenting her exhausting journey with her anorexic daughter, whom she wants to hold on to. It is one of the brightest highlights, and one I would have to reread. Ruby and Nora Throughout the book, we also encounter recurring characters, Ruby and her daughter Nora. Ruby is a teacher and single mother, and not the best mother since she often leaves Nora home alone while she seduces men for dates and gifts. Nora admires her mother and we see their relationship grow as she becomes an adult through figments. I liked reading their stories because they are the characters I feel most developed. I found myself reading the other stories slightly faster, just so I can meet Ruby and Nora again. Plus, Ruby is kinda funny--even when she isn't sober half the time. At the stop sign, Ruby tooted her horn, called a final "Bye, Beanie." Then she turned the wrong way. Nora cried out, "Right, go right!," but her mother with her terrible sense of direction was gone. -page 179 of Shout Her Lovely Name (uncorrected proof) Oh, and there's also this artist who has a crush on Nora and spews nonsense like he is the word's deepest person. I couldn't help smiling at his behavior. And this satire class, it's so--lower division. It's like meta. Self-parody. My next piece is coming from that reductio ad absurdum talk. You know; like the lecture hall and the professorial professor, and you, so coed, and I'm this, like, visionary. -page 180 of Shout Her Lovely Name (uncorrected proof) Ending Since Shout Her Lovely Name is a collection of stories, it ends with the story Developmental Blah Blah, which I felt was the book's lowest point. I have to say that this was one of the hardest books for me to finish because Developmental Blah Blah, just felt neverending. Every time I thought the story reaching its denouement I would turn the page to find more and more pages that seem to dwell on the minutiae. The tight, poetic prose I adored in the throughout the book backfired, and I felt the story dragging, pulling my energy down with it. I couldn't hold my interest in the characters either, forgetting who each one was as soon as they were introduced. Cassie, the mother, sounded like a paranoid train wreck: she feels her husband doesn't appreciate her, her children are growing up too fast, and she has romantic intentions towards her shrink. Every time I feel like I can grasp Cassie's character, she loses me on another tangent. Perhaps it was because it was the last story that made me want to race to the end, but I felt Developmental Blah Blah could've been better placed towards the beginning; it just ended the novel on a sour note. In many short story collections, the main problems I run into as a reader is the indistinguishable blur of under-developed characters and awkwardly abrupt endings, both of which were (to my pleasure) not found in Serber's work. In the short span of a chapter, I could feel these characters beside me and their stories flow with every word. Surprisingly, each story seemed to be obliquely tied to next giving the reading an unexpected transition: a story that ended on a mother giving birth would lead to a story about a mother bringing her newborn son on an airplane, and a girl who liked baking in one story would lead to a scene about buying cupcakes in the next. It made me wonder if there was a hidden agenda in story order. Shout Her Lovely Name is one thought-provoking collection filled with complex, yet flawed characters waiting to be understood. It's a book I will soon be revisiting.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Melissa

    "She named her cat Phil Donahue, hoping he'd greet her the way Donahue ran to the women in his audience, eager to hear anything they had to say about seat belts, war, or divorce." ("Manx," pg. 86) Bam. Sold. (Because like the character Nora above, I too as a young girl watched Phil Donahue with my mom back in the day and I loved him. Still do.) Natalie Serber had me as a new fan of her writing, thanks to her debut collection of stories, but give me a character wh "She named her cat Phil Donahue, hoping he'd greet her the way Donahue ran to the women in his audience, eager to hear anything they had to say about seat belts, war, or divorce." ("Manx," pg. 86) Bam. Sold. (Because like the character Nora above, I too as a young girl watched Phil Donahue with my mom back in the day and I loved him. Still do.) Natalie Serber had me as a new fan of her writing, thanks to her debut collection of stories, but give me a character who names their cat Phil Donahue - after (yes) the one and only talk show host Phil Donahue - and that's someone who I absolutely want to spend time with. Which is a good thing, because while reading the incredibly talented Natalie Serber's short story collection Shout Her Lovely Name, we're privileged to spend much time with young Nora (the Phil Donahue fangirl) and her mother, Ruby. Of the 11 stories that make up this collection, eight of them are interconnected and feature Ruby and Nora. (Alas, Phil Donahue the cat only appears in one of them). Beginning with "Ruby Jewel," these eight stories are chronological, taking the reader along on a ride through Ruby's return home after a semester of college and a stop at a bar with her father; Ruby's brief relationship with Nora's father and a fateful decision ("Free to a Good Home"); the ways women mother others ("Take Your Daughter to Work"), and Nora's own coming-of-age experiences ("Rate My Life"). I know many people aren't fans of short stories and even less so of collections of short stories like Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Stout or Mrs. Somebody Somebody by Tracy Winn that are interconnected. If that's you, try to put that aside, because Shout Her Lovely Name is a fabulous short story collection that is not to be missed. In this collection, Serber explores the oft-trod territory of mother-daughter relationships in all its messiness, complications, and joy - and while doing so, her writing twists on a dime with one phrase, surprising you in a way that grabs you when you're least expecting it. ("She shifted her gaze from the tapestry to his high cheekbones, full lips, the skin at his jaw line beginning to hammock in a trustworthy, I-will-still-be-here-in-the-morning way, and then of course to his unflinching eyes." (pg. 196) Serber's style is reflective of that of Lorrie Moore's, especially in the title story which is an emotional piece about a mother's response to her daughter's struggle with an eating disorder. She has a way of bringing the ordinary to life with a refreshing phrase, a searing detail or a poignant moment - or a combination of all three - that lingers long after turning the page. "Shout Her Lovely Name," "This Is So Not Me," and the final story, "Developmental Blah Blah" are the only three stories in Shout Her Lovely Name that don't pertain to Ruby and Nora. At first, I questioned the rationale for even including these three at all, as the eight stories featuring Ruby and Nora are so strong and I felt jolted upon leaving them to enter the lives of these other, lesser-known characters after I'd connected so well with both of them. (I loved Nora, and vacillated between adoring and hating Ruby. A memorable character, for sure!) But the more I think about it, the more I think it works. I'm not sure if I can actually put into words why I think it works ... it just does. Perhaps it is a reinforcement of Serber's message that relationships take many forms; there isn't any one way to approach this parenting gig. There are elements of us in everyone, no matter what the circumstances. This is a very minor quibble; I'm just happy to read as much of Natalie Serber's work as I can get - and I want more. Much more. (I'm thrilled to hear that she is working on a novel!) There's nothing more I love than discovering a new favorite author, even moreso through his or her short stories. Natalie Serber has just made that list. As a grateful and appreciative reader, she is an author I am going to be looking forward to watching as she is truly a remarkable literary talent.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Bonnie Brody

    Shout Her Lovely Name is a collection of short stories, many of them inter-connected and all of them dealing thematically with issues between mothers and daughters. Many of the stories are about Ruby and her daughter Nora. The stories about Ruby begin when she is in college and comes home to visit her parents in Florida. Shortly afterwards, she becomes pregnant and the plan is to give the baby up for adoption. At the last minute, Ruby changes her mind and keeps her little girl who she names Nora Shout Her Lovely Name is a collection of short stories, many of them inter-connected and all of them dealing thematically with issues between mothers and daughters. Many of the stories are about Ruby and her daughter Nora. The stories about Ruby begin when she is in college and comes home to visit her parents in Florida. Shortly afterwards, she becomes pregnant and the plan is to give the baby up for adoption. At the last minute, Ruby changes her mind and keeps her little girl who she names Nora. She raises Nora by herself as the father, Marco, is out of the picture. Many of the stories continue with the lives of Ruby and Nora as time progresses. The title story of the book is about a mother who grapples with her daughter's anorexia, trying to tell herself that it's not about her and attempting to remain calm and supportive towards her daughter who is horrific with her. In the stories about Ruby, we learn that her father and she both have drinking problems. When Ruby first comes home from college, Ruby's father shares a secret with her that is burdensome. The next story is about Ruby finding out that she is pregnant which she is not aware of until the second trimester. The father is a boyfriend who rejected her some months ago. In the third story featuring Ruby, she has her baby and would very much like to invest in a relationship with the father, Marco. Marco, however, is not at all interested in this and Ruby decides to raise her child on her own. As the year's pass, Ruby becomes a high school teacher and one day she brings Nora to school with her. She has a home room of all girls and the time is the 1970's, right at the start of the feminist movement. Ruby encourages her students to journal and to reflect on all the possibilities open to them. Their journaling impacts Ruby and Nora's lives. When Nora is fourteen, she meets Marco for the first time. Not only is it awkward despite all her hopes that it would be otherwise, but Nora realizes that she is a 'secret'. Marco has a family in Florida and no one knows anything about Nora's existence. As Nora gets to be of high school age, she begins to keep more and more secrets from Ruby. She changes tracks in high school from college-bound to secretarial. She begins hanging out with a drinking crowd that cuts school a lot and brings alcohol to school. Ruby continues with her teaching and drinks a lot when she's off work. Gradually, Nora turns a corner and begins taking college classes. There are a lot of stories about Ruby and Nora and I found it difficult to relate to them. Their characters seem vacuous and stiff and I had a difficult time really caring very much about them at all. Ruby makes a great effort to provide a good home for Nora but ends up trying to make Nora her friend rather than caring for her as a child. The best story in the book is 'This is So Not Me'. It is about a woman who marries her professor, 25 years her senior. When she gets pregnant, he becomes very controlling and this behavior continues after the baby is born. She is resentful but listens to most of his suggestions. All in all, this is primarily a book about Ruby and Nora. It has a minimalist feel to it and the characters are not fleshed out in any depth. I am a lover of short stories and wanted to have a greater affinity to this book but that was not the case.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Julie Griffin

    A mother fighting a battle with the anorexic that has taken possession of her daughter. A college student on a visit home who is waylaid by her alcoholic father, leaving her mother sitting home alone all evening. A mother who doesn't want to grow up, but still has moments of exquisite wisdom, just usually with other people's daughters. Is there anything that can be more frustrating, more hard to understand, more heartbreaking, and more illuminating than the relationships we have with our mothers A mother fighting a battle with the anorexic that has taken possession of her daughter. A college student on a visit home who is waylaid by her alcoholic father, leaving her mother sitting home alone all evening. A mother who doesn't want to grow up, but still has moments of exquisite wisdom, just usually with other people's daughters. Is there anything that can be more frustrating, more hard to understand, more heartbreaking, and more illuminating than the relationships we have with our mothers, and our daughters? Natalie Serber's wonderful collection of short stories soars with the flight of that one fleeting moment of connection in the midst of conflict, one perfect snapshot of our mother as a person of worth rather than annoyance, reaching safety for a moment in a war against the world and its weapons. With rich, buttery language and a deep understanding of women from teenager to upper middle age, Serber revisits those moments all mothers and daughters have felt. The first story, "Shout Her Lovely Name" details from the mother's point of view the kidnapping of her daughter into a snarling, venomous daughter who flees from her mother as well as food, and the tiny moments when she lets them both back in. The next few stories detail the story of Ruby, first as a teenager lagging in a bar with her father, trying out her new adult persona as a college student, and in following stories as she negotiates a surprise pregnancy, being abandoned by the father, and starting a new life, then moving on to the point of view of her daughter, Nora, named for the Thin Man movies character, who cares for herself as her mother veers from man to man and location to location, but anchored with a few of those moments that make us stop wincing for Ruby and seeing her wisdom coming through despite herself. We wince for Ruby when she asks a waiter, serving Ruby and Nora and Nora's boyfriend, "which of us do you think make the couple?" We feel for her when she overdoes a dinner with a potential vet boyfriend. In the final story, another middle-aged woman, Cassie, is planning a surprise 50th birthday party for her husband, while trying to figure out what her place is as her children leave the nest, and harboring fantasies about her therapist. She asks her therapist, what should she expect as far as developmental milestones in midlife? He answers that she no longer can see her life as an upward spiral. The author's prose is a joy to read. In one scene, Cassie remembers late night with her breastfeeding daughter falling asleep on her breast, knowing that her son and husband were safe and asleep, --"Cassie's family was precious as water cupped in her palms and there was nothing she could do to stop it from seeping through her fingers except hold tight and still for as long as possible." This book is a great book for mothers and daughters, and women, to share with each other.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Lori L (She Treads Softly)

    Shout Her Lovely Name by Natalie Serber is an exquisite collection of eleven short stories featuring mothers and daughters. All of the stories in this collection are poignant and impressive in the complexity and depth of emotion captured. With the exception of three stories, nine of them follow the same woman. The stories included are: "Shout Her Lovely Name," "Ruby Jewel," "Alone as She Felt All Day," "Free to a Good Home," "This Is So Not Me," "Manx," "Take Your Daughter to Work," "A Whole Wee Shout Her Lovely Name by Natalie Serber is an exquisite collection of eleven short stories featuring mothers and daughters. All of the stories in this collection are poignant and impressive in the complexity and depth of emotion captured. With the exception of three stories, nine of them follow the same woman. The stories included are: "Shout Her Lovely Name," "Ruby Jewel," "Alone as She Felt All Day," "Free to a Good Home," "This Is So Not Me," "Manx," "Take Your Daughter to Work," "A Whole Weekend of My Life," "Plum Tree," "Rate My Life," and "Developmental Blah Blah." The first short story, Shout Her Lovely Name (see the link to it below), was so powerful and eloquent it literally took my breath away at times. A mother recounts in a second person narrative the struggles and frustration she experiences trying to get her daughter help in overcoming an eating disorder. I think this story can be appreciated by anyone, but for those mothers who have had a similar struggle with a daughter's mental health, it will be more heart-wrenching because you will understand what this mother is thinking. Most of the following stories in the collection feature Ruby and, later, her daughter, Nora. The transition from the first story, "Shout Her Lovely Name," to the second, "Ruby Jewel," may feel abrupt at first, if reading the short stories back to back, but give Ruby some time. While the first story wrung my heart dry, I was captivated by and engaged in all of the Ruby stories. The connection between Ruby and Nora is fluid and complicated, as all mother-daughter relationships can be, but following it is worth the effort. Ruby and Nora are not as privileged as the mothers and daughters in the first and last story. Their complicated relationship is punctuated by a greater struggle in their day to day life. Serber deftly exposes their sacrifices as well as their faults as they grow up together. When they were done, I was left wanting more of the story of Ruby and Nora. "This Is So Not Me" and "Developmental Blah-Blah," were the least successful stories for me, but Serber is a skillful, ingenious writer so even though they were less successful for me, they were still both excellent short stories. (I should also mention that I love the cover of her collection and found it very visually appealing.) In Shout Her Lovely Name Natalie Serber has presented readers with an excellent, eloquent, perspicacious collection of short stories that left me longing for more. Bravo Ms. Serber! I will be anxiously awaiting another collection of your short stories! Very Highly Recommended http://shetreadssoftly.blogspot.com/ Disclosure:I received an advanced reading copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes

  29. 4 out of 5

    Kim

    As a book blogger, I'm fortunate to review all sorts of books. Popular books, (relatively) unknown books, controversial books, and many others. When I learned that I would get to review Shout Her Lovely Name by Natalie Serber, I was especially excited because this work had been generating a good deal of buzz and had even been reviewed by the New York Times. Additionally, it is a collection of short stories, which are a slight rarity here at Reflections. With this in mind, I dove right in! < As a book blogger, I'm fortunate to review all sorts of books. Popular books, (relatively) unknown books, controversial books, and many others. When I learned that I would get to review Shout Her Lovely Name by Natalie Serber, I was especially excited because this work had been generating a good deal of buzz and had even been reviewed by the New York Times. Additionally, it is a collection of short stories, which are a slight rarity here at Reflections. With this in mind, I dove right in! In this collection of short stories Natalie Serber focuses on the often complex mother/daughter relationship as the common thread that links these tales. The majority of these stories involve a mother/daughter couple named Ruby and Nora. The pair live in California, and the stories chronologically follow their lives, beginning with Ruby as a college student and moving through her life, eventually detailing Nora's life as a teenager. Although they can be read alone, taken as a group the Ruby/Nora tales could also be read as a novella. Serber has us follow the two through teenage rebellion, love, angst, and a whole host of other emotions as these two women assert their identity. Three other short stories are dispersed throughout the work, following the theme of mother/daughter relationships, but expressing it in quite different tones than Ruby and Nora's tale. In all, the stories explore what is typically a complex and layered relationship in most women's lives, and it lays plain the high and low points that often result from such a relationship. I must commend Serber on taking on such a complex and varied topic. As a daughter myself, I know that the relationship between a daughter and mother is extremely important, and I think it was interesting how Serber showed how much influence a mother can have over the choices a daughter makes in her lifetime. She excellently displayed the good times and bad, not pulling any punches and telling it like it is. My only complaint is over the flow of the novel; once I got invested in Ruby and Nora's story I thought it was odd that one of the short stories that didn't involve them was located smack dab in the middle of the Ruby/Nora stories. I think that relocation or perhaps an offshoot of solely Ruby/Nora stories would have been better. Nonetheless, Serber's works are spot on and definitely poignant and applicable to women around the world. If you haven't already done so definitely read this book, and take a good look at your own mother/daughter relationships. They'll be all the more better because of it. Kimberly (Reflections of a Book Addict) Originally Posted: http://wp.me/p18lIL-1ga

  30. 5 out of 5

    Emma Dries

    This is a beautiful collection of short stories. Not only is it a love letter to mother/daughter relationships, but also a love letter to mothers and daughters individually and their intersecting paths in life. While I normally shy away from books geared so specifically toward an audience, Natalie Serber truly surprised me and rose above the crowd that attempts to write eloquently about the complexities of families. As readers we are used to stories that trace the tumultuous path of familial rel This is a beautiful collection of short stories. Not only is it a love letter to mother/daughter relationships, but also a love letter to mothers and daughters individually and their intersecting paths in life. While I normally shy away from books geared so specifically toward an audience, Natalie Serber truly surprised me and rose above the crowd that attempts to write eloquently about the complexities of families. As readers we are used to stories that trace the tumultuous path of familial relationships, and because of that, I think such narratives tend to follow familiar and obvious tropes. Though the stand alone narratives in this book absolutely have merit, the suite of stories following the lives of Ruby and her daughter Nora is easily the most compelling. The suite begins with a story of Ruby returning from her first semester at a Florida college to her small southern hometown and getting drunk with her father at the local bar. While the majority of the time and space in that first narrative is spent on interaction between Ruby and her father, the quiet moment at the close with Ruby and her mother once the former returns home is easily the most heartbreaking and brilliant moment in the story. In fact, Serber's talent shines through most in those sad or tragic moments, writing beautifully through the kind of sadness in which most writers would slip into melodrama. The stories in the suite do not read like chapters of a novel, but rather as short snapshots into a mother and daughter's relationship at various moments in their lives, often years apart. We see Ruby waitressing in Gainesville for a summer between years at college, Ruby attempting to collect furniture off the street for her New York apartment while seven months pregnant, Ruby and Nora living in the toxic smog of 1970s LA, and finally Nora working at a bakery in Santa Barbara as she works her way through school at UCSB. As a reader, you come to understand and accept the unpredictability of Ruby that eventually fades into wisdom as she urges her daughter to not make the same mistakes she did. And we leave Ruby and Nora with a certain uneasiness - two women who seem somewhat unaware of the profound influence they have had on one another's lives. We wish we could point out to them the beauty in their similarities, in their differences. We wish we could show them just how profound nurture and the ties that bind mother and daughter truly are.

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