Death is Not an Option by Suzanne Rivecca is a great quick read, perfect for the upcoming summer months. In her compilation of stories about young women dealing with love, sex, and growing up, Rivecca cautions readers to the hazards of life. There are seven stories in this collection, and each story, though short, has very strong, warm, and detailed characters.
The first story is the eponymous “Death is Not an Option.” This story takes us into the world of a high school teenager, Emma, who fights with her insecurities, and worries about her lack of plans for the future. She is forced to deal with a frenemy who seems nice enough, but manages to humiliate her regardless. Whether these attempts are on purpose or by accident, remains to be seen.
And so we age from adolescence to collegiate, in “Yours Will do Nicely,” and Katrina is also found struggling with identity and personal crises. After a failed one night stand, the narrator finds herself writing letters to him. She struggles with her change in personality and how that affects those around her.
And then we age to graduate level in “It Sounds Like You’re Feeling.” And now the tense is second person. The narrator here, unnamed, is a young female who works at a hotline, answering phones
just before they are escalated to counselors. Unable to cope with her work, she is told to see an appointed therapist who she grows attached to in a paternal way.
Then we move on to “Very Special Victims” and we have a young woman who was sexually assaulted at a very young age, and how she had to cope with parents who believed her, and yet didn’t want to, and an uncle who would never admit to his crime. This sad yet poignant tale brings home the point that not all victims immediately get the love and support they deserve.
The next story, “Look Ma, I’m Breathing,” is a short story of a young memoirist who gets stalked by a would-be landlord. Here we experience a woman being wronged, who at first doesn’t not want to admit it herself, and so does nothing to stop it, but eventually finds the courage to enact a restraining order.
The next tale, “Consummation,” is really a long letter, but a very long and detailed letter to a doctor who saved her (the letter writer) father’s life. The entire letter is a long story of the person he saved, and his effect on his daughter. And how at times she is happy he is saved, and most of the time she thinks she is not.
The final story, “None of the Above,” is of a recently married teacher who struggles with dealing with a student who may be abused at home. She follows the appropriate steps, and though confronted, it seems like there may be no abuse. Not to be fooled though, the young teacher begins to create her own investigation, and eventually discovers what the family has been hiding.
All in all, each story strongly grasps the issues many women face. And the struggles with emotions that many have to go through. I have to say that the only issue I found with this book is that it left me wanting more. I wanted to know what happened to each of these characters after their individual tales end. I felt like I could really hear more about each of these stories. Then again, at most, that’s all we ever really get when we meet people, brief snapshots into their lives, and it’s just greedy to ask for more.