The stories in this collection trace the coming of age, the rite of passage, of three female writers. One finds her voice in writing; another finds a metaphor in the animal world; and yet another seeks the truth via the feminist cause. They constitute a new female voice and they work toward a fair representation of their personal angst that somehow redound to the whole young culture.
Kisha Aleena Abuda’s “The Shadow Walks Among Us” is a tale of animals in the wild who must suffer the privation of being hunted. One by one, members of the community of animals get caught and suffer violent deaths. As the animals fear “shadows,” either their own kind or the humans in their midst, one of them finds the courage to follow that one big Shadow’s trail. Having witnessed suffering and death consume his peers, it follows Shadow to its lair. It seems that a great number of animals have suffered violent deaths through the Shadow’s cruel hands but our narrator/animal persona remains free and untouched. One day, as the animal is able to finally track down Shadow, readers find themselves being reminded of the fragility of the animal world and how analogous that world could be to the human world.
Christine Anda’s “Fangirl” is built on parallel scenarios of two young women who have to contend with verbal abuse inflicted by domineering men in their lives. The narrating voice is constantly upset over her father’s nitpicking of her so-called “flaws”—ranging from the most inconsequential to her staunchest political beliefs. This story finds a parallel in that of a social media influencer idolized by our narrator. Lea Malaya is a feminist blogger who enjoys a wide online following. An unexpected encounter in a mall shatters the narrator’s adulation of her online idol as she chances upon Leah being mistreated by her boyfriend. Anda’s short story demonstrates the fragility of our political beliefs, most specifically if these remain abstractions in our mind and hardly make a dent on our everyday existence.
Carmel Ilustrisimo’s “One Writer” traces a young writer’s journey to find herself as she embarks on a career in the literary world. Sensitive, awkward, and easily picked on by bullies in school, the central character, Jeanne Linaw, agonizes as she wades through the dark tendencies of her psychological make-up. She finds solace in writing and in seeking answers. As an opportunity shows up to meet an ex-friend who bullied her cruelly in school, she finds the strength to return the person’s nastiness with kindness. Ironically finding an admirer in that former friend’s younger sister, Jeanne discovers how writing has become about being the perfect version of oneself.
These short stories trace the crises of young life and of finding oneself a la female Bildungsroman. The lessons of pain, of awakening, and of real danger force these narrative personas to seek comfort in writing, in living vicariously, and in finding their voice. This womanly world and feminine ecriture are truly an exercise toward getting busy living and getting busy making sense of it.