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Reviewed by Stephanie Chapman for Readers' Favorite
Len Joy’s short story collection, Casualties and Survivors, contains twenty-eight stories that vary in length. Every story deals with relationships, ranging from basic friendships to loved ones. The theme of this collection varies with each story, with some dealing with the loss of a person affecting somebody living, good memories of the past, and people coming out of a bad situation into a good one. Several stories confront lies being discovered, causing the end of a marriage or long-term relationship. Likewise, there are some stories intermixed that are lighter in feeling, like Clouds. In Clouds, a man is sitting in anger management and has to tell the class why he was court-ordered. When he tells his story, he finds camaraderie supporting him.
Len Joy’s collection of stories is like viewing a brief excerpt from people’s lives. I found several made me laugh, while others made me contemplate how I would handle the same situation. In the first story, Casualties, Colin is remembering his first love, Maria, while he waits for his current wife to arrive at a diner. Some of his memories are bittersweet, and the outcome is unexpected. The mysterious story of the House Across The Street left me wondering if Boris and Natasha were terrorists. I liked how I could learn from the lessons the characters went through. As with most short stories, the focus is on the plot. The transitions between stories are distinct, and the titles are quite appealing. Readers who like short story collections with thoughtful lessons will enjoy Casualties and Survivors.