Reviewed by: Jay
Just finished reading "Her Mother's Child" and ready with some right-after-reading comments.
I loved it. In fact, even if I factor in the bias that I read this one just now and reading Finding Mulligan, Stupid Questions, Bad Fairy, and "Moonlight" quite a while back, I think this is my favorite Julie Sondra Decker work so far :)
There are a few reasons for it, which I'll run off the top of my head:
1) The voice is most similar to my optimal preferences; unsurprisingly, I like non-modern voices best (ruling out Cassie and Nick), and I like adult voices (ruling out Delia, even if it is her adult self looking back). So having a mother who's presumably in her 40s or so plays well to my preferences
2) It's character driven (of course!), and fantasy, and in a presumably medieval setting. Right up my alley, as I'm sure you knew all too well. And it's a very personal tale with an extremely narrow focus on a mother and daughter, which is again very much my kind of thing
3) Skillful use of light suspense and weaving in the resolutions naturally. Examples: what Iris is worrying about (ohhh, it's not that she wants Briar to choose her, it's that she doesn't!), how exactly the rituals work (ohh, they're in the river and the sunday boy/girl is blindfolded) and how it's all gonna happen for Iris, and how her choice of another girl is going to be received (not badly at all, fortunately). Even the gradual doling out of details about the mother's first love is done really well - the revelation on page 8 that she chose a girl was a great WHOA moment, and we're not even sure until about 5 pages later if it's even allowed for a girl to choose another girl to be in the river. I loved how the plot threads were woven.
Conclusion: Loved it, felt satisfied after reading it, liked the voice and felt engrossed and transported elsewhere while reading it. And that's all I ask :)
Reviewed by: Ryan
All in all, a really well-written and constructed piece. Really enjoyed it. Might have personally preferred a bit more drama and conflict with the reveal(considering the types of things that happen in real life concerning this subject), that would have played with a darker sense of irony about the issue and forcing the reader to examine how not-so-nice the nature of the religious and sexual orientation can mix, but thatís obviously not my call, heh. Well worth the read. Thank you for sharing, and hope you find my feedback useful.
Reviewed by: Jessie
I enjoyed it a lot. The highest point was definitely the middle. [ . . . ] I must say, if this was indeed your intent, you did a good job setting the religion up in a positive manner, from a sympathetic perspective, so most of the negative perception of religious/social tradition comes from the reader. [ . . . ] I'm really enjoying the way this story demonstrates how love is a very personal experience and it's different for each person, but society puts up structures to guide it, for better or worse. This story is really doing well presenting multiple perspectives, and the good about both, without passing judgment. Awesome.
ARGHHHHHH WHY CAN'T HER MOM SPEAK? I really want to know why she can't speak. :-p
Otherwise well done, good ending. Somehow I feel like the ending could pack even more punch. Right now I'd say it's "sufficient," and would be "great" except that the middle point of the story reached such a high for me that it came down a bit at the end. I still want to know why her mother can't speak...maybe that's something that could be a twist at the ending? But again, I don't think the ending NEEDS to be changed, it's good and satisfying (except for my curiosity about her mother's silence) but I think you might be able to reach even higher. Hmmmmmm.
Reviewed by: Kat
I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was nice to read a story about an accepting community that did not banish someone for being different. It was a nice surprise to read how accepting the people were [ . . . ] A very nice contrast to how most religions are not very accepting of gay individuals at all. Shows how acceptance can be shaped by that which influences us. I did not have an issue with the way you wrote in the present tense. It was refreshing, and your writing style is very eloquent. [ . . . ] I did feel that it was a bit slow at times, more so around the middle, but I wouldn't suggest sacrificing vital information to make a story flow better because the story might then become confusing. But the story reminds me of one that I would read in Fantasy&SciFi, an interesting and almost exotic story that would definitely get some good attention.
Reviewed by: Claudia
All of your dialogue sounds very natural, especially considering that only half the conversation is spoken. I like your subtle hints at the mother's inability to speak. I like how you incorporated the exposition here, allowing your readers to identify with Iris as she learns more about her own culture. Having read more than a few stories that take place in communities like this one in which the young people never question the community's rules or limitations, I appreciate that Iris feels somewhat rebellious in the face of what she perceives to be arbitrary rules. I like the slightly open-ended conclusion here. For me, it evokes the idea that all relationships are works in progress, and that there is no single moment of clarity that can damage or repair them. But I definitely see this story ending on an optimistic note. All of the characters in this story are brilliantly fleshed out given the length constraints, but I felt that Aubrey wasn't quite as well-developed as he could have been, probably because most of what I learned about him was through his wife. I think it would help if you noted more of his outward emotions in his interaction with Laurel's parents.
Reviewed by: Shelby
So soft and gentle and beautifully written. You get the atmosphere through with very little description to clutter the story. Iím usually bothered by present tense, but you did it so well that it never pulled me out of the story Ė I barely noticed it.
Reviewed by: The Author Herself
The best thing about this story for me was that I got to take a story I'd already written and re-spin what was good about it without carrying along the awkwardness of my late-nineties scribblings. I find the mother character more compelling than before, since I've figured out more effective ways of expressing emotion and reminiscence and thought without drowning in a character's navel-gazing. And some interesting elements connected for me this time in a way I didn't expect: the mother's regret and vicarious fulfillment in her daughter's choices, and the way her insecurity surrounding her ability to give advice moved toward resolution. I was happy with how her alternate communication came through, too.
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