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#Review: Universally Adored by Elizabeth Bruce

Universally Adored and Other One-Dollar Stories
Author: Elizabeth Bruce
Publisher: Vine Leaves Press
Rating: 4/5

In “Universally Adored and Other One Dollar Stories,” Elizabeth Bruce invites readers into a world where the humble dollar bill becomes a lens through which to view the complexities of human experience. With 33 captivating tales, Bruce weaves together empathetic and humorous narratives, showcasing the resilience and defiance of plain-spoken individuals searching for meaning and redemption. Each story offers a unique glimpse into lives filled with longing, struggle, and moments of unexpected beauty. From a colour-obsessed artist’s desperate attempt to win back her lover to a runaway teen seeking solace in the arms of a vagabond healer, Bruce’s prose is as rich in imagery as it is immersive in its exploration of the human condition.

Among all the other stories, the titular story had to be special. “Universally Adored” evokes deep emotions of love, loss, and sacrifice as Fran reflects on her relationship with Janine. Through Fran’s decision to prioritize stability over her artistic passion and her heartfelt gesture of creating a counterfeit dollar bill as a symbol of reconciliation, the story underscores the transformative power of art and the hope for healing in relationships. Its impact lies in its portrayal of universal human experiences and the enduring message of love and redemption. Another one that I liked was “Grocery List” which is a raw and honest portrayal of a struggling mother’s inner monologue as she navigates the challenges of budgeting and making ends meet. Furthermore, “The Bell” intricately weaves together the poignant tale of a daughter’s reflection on her mother’s lonely life, offering a bittersweet exploration of family bonds and the passing of time.

In Bruce’s masterful hands, the intimate object of a dollar bill becomes a symbol of hope, desperation, and longing. Her precise writing style, punctuated with dramatic pauses for effect, draws readers into the heart of each story, immersing them in the lives of her characters with vivid clarity. Whether recounting a great mashed potato war or the quiet sanctuary in a 1970s-era bed massager, Bruce’s prose resonates with a deep sense of humanity and authenticity. Each tale is a testament to the power of storytelling, offering readers a glimpse into the lives of characters who are at once familiar and extraordinary. With “Universally Adored,” Elizabeth Bruce proves herself to master the short story form, leaving readers eagerly anticipating her next literary offering.

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