Concealed Weapons
by Alana Reneé

"'But now is not forever,' Ms. Karen promised. 'Now is not forever. Today, you get a say in what tomorrow will be like for you.'"

Mark Twain wrote, “Truth is stranger than fiction…” Occasionally however, truth is best found in fiction. That feels like the case with this collection of short stories detailing the brutal truths of existence that some are forced to live with, as well as the transcendent power individuals possess to break free from circumstances that confine.

In these eight tales of different African Americans living in New Jersey, both the plight of urban disenfranchisement and the potential for individual accomplishment share space. The stories run the gamut of what is and what can be. A young man stops dealing drugs and starts dealing in real estate. A teenager forced to care for her younger brother creates her own day care business. A nephew uses his education and training to free his uncle from prison. A high school principal harnesses the fire of entrepreneurship in one of his students. A child from an abusive home environment overcomes her history to secure her future. A runaway experiences degradation but finds redemption. These vignettes and more explore what can be achieved with the powerful combination of individual character and collective support.

Reneé is an accomplished writer who speaks with many different voices. She is able to imbue her characters with authority, whether she’s portraying a grieving mother or an oily pimp. Her street language dialogue is often brutal and blunt yet always honest. She unapologetically returns to the healing role one’s belief in a higher power can bring, but it always feels organic to the story rather than any form of sermonizing. This author’s tales motivate as well as entertain, and hopefully they can awaken the concealed weapons we all share to better one another’s lot in life.

RECOMMENDED by the US Review

Return to USR Home