What a great short story by Hoffman. I love her anthology books for a reason. I have never really been able to get into her novels because I feel like they lose a lot along the way. But she always shines in her short stories. This one follows Isabel Gibson who now in her early 30s is alone and living in New York City. She fled her small town of Maine decades earlier after grieving the loss of her mother and father. She and her sister, Sophie have not spoken in about 11 years after Sophie turned her back on her sister for demanding that they sell their family bookstore. When Isabel gets a note in the mail with the words “HELP” on it though, she returns back to her sister and realizes that even though it felt like her childhood was bleak, there was a lot of love there that she let herself forget.
This whole story had me miss my mother terribly. Watching your parent die by inches breaks you, and I can see why Isabel wanted to run away after losing her mother, and in essence losing her father because he fell into drinking. This is a story of grief, but also love. I really could have read about 100 more pages following Isabel.
This story made me miss my mother and my father too. And it made me miss long summer days in my backyard sitting and listening to the birds. I miss watching the clouds, smelling the sweet air, listening to the bees. And I miss waiting for my mother to call my name, to come inside for dinner.