Mama Cried by Talia Haven
Welcome to Saturday Shorts where we feature short stories and novellas. Three reviewers read the short story, Mama Cried, in about 10 minutes, then proceeded to talk about it for an hour or more. Mama Cried is rich fodder for discussions about the nature of forgiveness, of justice, of the impact of offenders on victims and their families, on crimes against children, and even on religion. This is one you really want to talk about with someone; the three of us weren’t sure if we would have taken as much away from the story without the discussion.
Publisher’s Description: Jenny was enjoying herself on the swings when Azula, one of the guardians of the playground came to take her away. Together they journey to a cinder building where Jenny must make a powerful decision.
Potential spoilers beyond this point. You might want to take 10 minutes to read the story, and then come back to this discussion. Seriously.
<Fiona, Ivana, and Annie are lounging around the living room, chatting. Ivana and Annie are discussing which book needs to be reviewed next while Fiona reads Mama Cried.>
<Annie pulls up Mama Cried on Amazon while Fiona shoves her iPad into Ivana’s hands. They read.>
I do, too. It reminds me of “Dead Man Walking.” I wanted it to end with that whole redemptive space. I was SO surprised when it didn’t.
Boy, I didn’t get that at all. I thought he was trying to convey that he saw the girl and wanted forgiveness. Like he had the assurance that he was going to a good place that the girl was escorting him to a place of goodness and he was trying to convey that he would be in a safe place.
Why does this guy believe he even deserves to be forgiven, anyway? Because a priest told him that God forgives? Shouldn’t the forgiveness of the victims be what’s important, rather than some ambiguous deity? Should he be forgiven because he hasn’t committed the same crime for a while? If he’s been in prison all this time, he hasn’t had the opportunity to commit a crime. He hasn’t been tempted. That’s not redemption or recovery, that’s just being locked up. No choice involved. When faced with the little girl and the mother, he doesn’t even act humble or apologetic. He seems very entitled.
There was actually quite a bit more discussion; these are just the highlights. Other than telling you even more about the story, there’s not much more we can say. We all agreed this story had value way beyond entertainment if used in the right setting. Read it with someone. Talk about it. The time investment is so small, but the concepts in this story are so big.
If you like this book…
It’s kind of sad to think this, but there are very few short stories or even books I’ve read that are at quite the same level as this story. Though I’m not sure where you’d find it now, the short story titled “For All The Rude People” by Jack Ritchie is one I would recommend as a though-provoking discussion piece. It was most recently published in Little Boxes of Bewilderment: Suspense Comedies in June of 1989.