A Mother’s Love and Other Stories

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Theodore Varaczek is a beautiful boy. He is so beautiful, in fact, that his mother hides him away in the attic of her house, fearful someone might try to take him from her. For years, he lives essentially alone, educating himself through the radio and various books the previous owner left behind.

Then, at sixteen, he makes his escape.

Theodore makes his way to Los Angeles, in search of information about his father, but he finds much more than he bargained for and ends up a teen film star. But the world outside his mother’s attic is much more treacherous than he bargained for, and Theodore finds that it is harder to stay true to himself than he expected.

On the whole, A Mother’s Love is a beautifully written novel, full of rich introspection and a stirring combination of innocence and cynicism. There were times, however, when it rang false. Something Theodore himself says sums it up best: “I usually try to keep it [his anger at his mother] contained.” He keeps his anger so well contained that for several chapters it was easy to forget it might exist at all. The author does a wonderful job at showing us the world through Theodore’s eyes, but rarely does he truly let us into his mind.

A Mother’s Love is the largest part of the book, but it contains seven short stories as well, all showcasing a different aspect of Bellin’s talent. “The Mole Killer” displays a touch of humor, pointed sharply at writers and publishers, while “Brother-in-law” is a more meditative piece, full of faith, grace, and human failing.

Bellin’s style can best be described as beautifully understated. Even his comic pieces are filled with a sense that the sublime lingers in the background of the page, just between the lines. At his best, he creates moments that will take your breath away, but so subtly you’ll hardly even notice it. At its worst, a joke or two will fall flat. The collection is not perfect, but the imperfection is a compromise I am more than happy to accept for the lovely moments it brings. Less lovely is the dialogue, which at times sounds more like it comes from a short story than anything an actual person might say. Even that, though, is something that only bothered me from time to time.

In a word, this collection is beautiful. I enjoyed it very much, and those well-versed in modern literature will likely enjoy it even more.

Reviewed By:

Author David Bellin
Star Count 4/5
Format Trade
Page Count 279 pages
Publisher Epigraph Books
Publish Date 2020-03-26
ISBN 0781951937287
Amazon Buy this Book
Issue August 2020
Category Popular Fiction


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