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Reviewed by Astrid Iustulin for Readers' Favorite
As much as I consider myself an avid reader, there are still books that can surprise me with something new. Backstories by Simon van der Velde is one of those books. A collection of short stories set in the Sixties and Seventies between the United States and the United Kingdom, Backstories gives us accounts of abuse and violence against members of ethnic or sexual minorities. The stories do not present fictional or unknown characters but real people, although their identities are not revealed. The episodes date back to an era in which these people were not yet famous. It is through reading the stories that we can find clues to identify them. Therefore, it is up to the curious reader to find out who they are. With these intriguing elements, Backstories is a book that deserves to be read.
When a book manages to combine several elements successfully, the result is always amazing. This is the case in Backstories. Simon van der Velde has the ability to combine social issues with the mystery about the identity of the protagonists, something that cannot but fascinate readers. I particularly enjoyed the detective work I had to do, but, of course, the strong point of Backstories is how it deals with social issues. Guessing who is who is useful for keeping readers' attention alive, but is especially valuable for delivering the message of the stories. Backstories is truly a one-of-a-kind book, and I look forward to a new collection by van der Velde with its original and engaging features.