Book Review: A Crack in the Wall by Betty Jane Hegerat

I don’t often read short stories, which is perhaps one reason why I find it hard to write them. When I do pick up short story collections or any of the literary magazines publishing short stories, I often find myself confused or depressed by the stories included there. It makes me wonder if my short stories don’t meet the grade because I like cheerful scenes and happy endings.

Recently, however, I read Betty Jane Hegerat’s collection of short stories, A Crack in the Wall, and thoroughly enjoyed them. I found myself turning the pages eagerly, disappointed when one story ended and yet anticipating the next story.

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A Crack in the Wall, short stories by Betty Jane HegeratA Crack in the Wall

Many of the characters in A Crack in the Wall are in transition, moving on, facing changes. Sometimes these changes are related to a death or divorce—major life events. The characters must figure out how to deal with what has happened and how their lives are going to be now. The stories were humorous, interesting, inspiring; full of characters whom I could relate to.

One of my favourite stories was “Water from the Well.” It’s told from the perspective of Ilsa, an elderly lady in a nursing home, as her mind wanders between past and present, sleep and wake. In a strange twist of fate, she shares her room with an old enemy, a former neighbour from her homesteading days. Just as that neighbour kept water from Ilsa’s family when they were homesteading, Ilsa is now keeping water from her. Then, at the end of the story, a small comment in the other woman’s ramblings gives the women a common ground, a place to make peace.

A Crack in the Wall is Betty Jane’s first book, a delightful collection of short stories that’s earned a place on my packed bookshelves. Like her novels, A Crack in the Wall both inspires and challenges me as a writer, making me hope that someday, I can write stories that are even half as good as Betty Jane’s.

More about Betty Jane Hegerat

Betty Jane Hegerat is the author of a variety of books, including two novels (Running Toward Home and Delivery), and a work of creative non-fiction (The Boy). A social worker by profession, Betty has taught creative writing in various venues. She writes from a longstanding fascination with relationships and families and the secrets and lies that bind ordinary lives together. Her books have been shortlisted or finalists for several prizes.

I think one of the greatest gifts we can give our children is a love of books and reading. Whether they hold a beautifully illustrated paper book in their hands, or enjoy a good story on a jazzy-looking e-reader in a primary colour, we need to nourish the appetite. That’s my manifesto. ~ Betty Jane Hegerat

Betty Jane is the recipient of the Writers Guild of Alberta 2015 Golden Pen Award for Lifelong Achievement in Writing. To find out more about Betty Jane and her books, drop by her website.

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  1. Koala Bear Writer June 8, 2010
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