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.

Mama CriedTitle: Mama Cried
Author: Talia Haven
Publication Date: January 9, 2015
Genre: Literature
Source: Provided by the author

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.>

Fickle_Fiona_50OMG, you two! You HAVE to read this story. It is crazy. This is NOT a kid’s story.

<Annie pulls up Mama Cried on Amazon while Fiona shoves her iPad into Ivana’s hands. They read.>

Agent_Annie_50Wow.

Invested_Ivana 50Wow.

Fickle_Fiona_50Right?!

Invested_Ivana 50The author had to have gone through something like this herself or been very close to someone who had. This is deep and emotional.

Fickle_Fiona_50I think I like it.

Agent_Annie_50I 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.

Invested_Ivana 50I wasn’t. I love how it ended. I wanted there to be justice.

Fickle_Fiona_50What is the justice for? What crime was committed? The story never says.

Invested_Ivana 50It doesn’t, and I thought that was interesting. All we know is that the crime resulted in a child’s death. In that case, does it really matter what the crime was?

Agent_Annie_50Well, he wouldn’t be on death row for a small crime, and they wouldn’t have exhumed a body unless they were looking for physical evidence.

Fickle_Fiona_50Ewww, yeah. The the whole “I’ll give her a hug and kiss for you” really creeped me out!

Invested_Ivana 50Yes! Based on the way the mother reacted to that statement, and the way the priest reacted, I think the author was giving us a hint about the crime.

Agent_Annie_50Boy, 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.

Fickle_Fiona_50That’s interesting. It was like a Silence of the Lambs moment for me. Creepy!

Invested_Ivana 50Why 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.

Agent_Annie_50Ivana, you asked if the crime really mattered because it resulted in the death of a child. Would you feel differently if it resulted in the death of an adult?

Invested_Ivana 50Yes, because children are more vulnerable, more dependent, less able to defend themselves, especially against an adult.

Fickle_Fiona_50I notice that each of us read the story from a different perspective: Annie from the offender’s, Ivana from the mother’s, and me from the child’s. That’s interesting.

Invested_Ivana 50The girl is told she has to make a choice, but it is never articulated what that choice is. She just seems to know.

Agent_Annie_50I think it was realizing how much the Mom was still hurting that the made the girl’s decision. Up until that point she didn’t seem to care one way or another.

Invested_Ivana 50Yeah. A lot of us can put up with being hurt ourselves, but when someone we care about is hurting, it’s a whole different ball game.

Fickle_Fiona_50So, what was the point of the story? You wouldn’t give this to someone whose kid has died. You wouldn’t give it to a kid.

Invested_Ivana 50It might be a healing exercise for the author herself.

Fickle_Fiona_50It’s odd that it’s a stand-alone story; it’s only 3600 words or so. Having it in a themed anthology would give it more exposure. Or it needs a different cover.

Agent_Annie_50Yes. The cover is way too sweet to be on that story. I think this would be an interesting book club choice because it brings up so many issues to discuss.

Invested_Ivana 50I agree. This is such a thought provoking story, made all the more so by this discussion.

Fickle_Fiona_50This really needs to be read in a class or a group setting, like a college class.

Agent_Annie_50Or a survivor’s group; maybe even an offender’s therapy group. Someplace where the themes can really be fleshed out.

Fickle_Fiona_50I bet I could read this 5/10 times and get something different each time. I would give it a five… maybe 4 ½ since it needs a new cover.

Invested_Ivana 50Yes, I think it’s a five too. It really is pretty amazing.

Agent_Annie_50Yeah, me too.


badge5v4There 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.

Stand Out Award Badge2Other reviews…

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.

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Posted on July 25, 2015, in 5-Great, Agent Annie, Contemporary Fantasy, Fickle Fiona, Invested Ivana, Review, Saturday Shorts, Standout Award and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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