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No Strangers to Pain

No Strangers to Pain is a collection of twenty-one short stories (seventeen previously published), both flash fiction and longer stories, narrate tales of characters who’ve made mistakes and have regrets, men and women with pasts they’re reluctant to share, festering secrets, and memories that haunt them. They are ordinary people—teenagers, young adults, older adults—who’ve been dealt a bad hand or have made bad choices or are just trying to muddle through life. These characters grapple with how to make peace with their families and find their way in the world. Themes include loss, transitions, addiction, and loneliness.

In the title story, Joachin hitchhikes from California to tiny Silverton, Colorado, seeking to escape his past after foster care. Misty, another denizen of the foster care system, ultimately decides the allure of street freedom is preferable to safety, rules, and structure in “Too Good to Be True.” “Not Everybody Can Be Saved” introduces us to Greer—lawyer, mother, daughter, sister—who struggles to accept the death of the drug-addict brother she essentially raised, who resisted her attempts to help him get clean, finally accepting that sometimes in life closure eludes us.

Readers who enjoy the short fiction of Bonnie Jo Campbell (Mothers Tell Your Daughters), AA Packer (Drinking Coffee Elsewhere), and Arlene Heyman (Crazy Old Sex) will enjoy these stories.