The challenge of a good short story is the ability to convey complicated ideas and feelings to the reader in a limited amount of pages. Diana Grillo, author of An Accidental Murder and Other Stories, manages to easily draw sympathy from readers for her struggling characters, diving straight into the troubled heart of a variety of family conflicts. These short stories take readers to uncomfortable and tragic places, often focusing on domestic turmoil in the 1960s, a turbulent time of war and social inequality.

While public friction in the community continued to spike with the Civil Rights Movement and Vietnam War, domestic violence festered behind closed doors, an issue more private but perniciously present in many households. Giving amplified voice to all the victims of this gross injustice, Grillo tackles the challenging topics of physical abuse, emotional manipulation, adultery and poverty powerfully in her debut collection.

While the perspective of the woman changes from story to story, their collective troubles have an echoing tone of betrayal and desolation to unacceptable behavior that continues to this day. Aligned with the Me Too and Time’s Up movements, Grillo’s stories may not be situated in today’s world, but they carry timely significance nonetheless.

One may only look to Grillo’s collection to be potently reminded of so many different examples. A father cruelly beats his daughter for coming home later than expected and no one comes to her defense. A woman named Andrea tells her close friend Kerry that her husband tries to make unwanted advances toward her, only receiving a fractured friendship in response. One young girl must summon the courage to walk home in the dark without her friend when a double date takes a bad turn and her match becomes too demanding.

These harsh tales and many more in this collection present daunting circumstances and antagonists for these women. But, despite their tormenters, each woman presents a unique sense of courage to offer glimpses of hope. The beaten daughter finds strength in the fact that there is a witness to her father’s violence that can back up her story at the police station when she will report it. Though Andrea loses her best friend Kerry, she prevents any further unwanted approaches from the unfaithful husband and gives Kerry the knowledge and power to leave her damaged relationship behind. The young girl who left her presumptuous date early avoided, at best, a highly uncomfortable evening, and at worst sexual assault. Even though her friend put her in a bad position by insisting to stay with her own date rather than walk back with her, the protagonist trusted her instincts and did not buckle under peer pressure.

These flashes of independence illustrate the agency women have in their own lives. While they may not be able to control everything that happens to them, they can choose how they react and how to minimize damage for the present and future through seeking help and ensuring justice for the assailant’s crime. While there is inequality and misery, Grillo assures us there is also opportunity for justice and redemption.

An Accidental Murder and Other Stories is available for purchase.

ABOUT DIANA GRILLO:

DIANA GRILLO grew up in a struggling, Italian immigrant family while living in a wealthy suburb in Westchester County, New York. The neighborhood’s substantial wealth and social status starkly contrasted with her family’s, making Diana feel as though she never quite belonged. She became a mother at a very young age and worked her way through college while raising a son and daughter.

After graduating with a B.S. from Mercy College, Diana worked as a paralegal and social worker. Now retired, Diana currently lives in Cave Creek, Arizona with her husband where she has taken up writing short stories.

The sharp socio-economic contrasts of her youth and her tenacious journey into adulthood have inspired much of her work. Clearly, her realistic grasp on the struggles of the family is worth celebrating. Diana is a member of the Arizona Authors’ Association. Her short story Mr. Anderson is featured in a Vinculinc Anthology, Boundless, Stories By Authors Destined To Soar. Diana’s radio interview can be found on speakuptalkradio.com under the author series.

To learn more, visit Diana’s website.

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