Though the 42 stories here often masquerade as slices of domestic life, the scale of the emotional trajectories is treated with the weight of the epic. They are sexy and sly. The dialogue winks and sparks on the page, making every story feel like a flirt. The collection overloads the senses ... Cross-Smith’s descriptions are filled with equal amounts of violence and tenderness ... The author’s experimentation with form doesn’t prove as rewarding as the way she plays with conventions of linked narratives. Throughout, characters from earlier stories reappear to nudge us in the ribs, these rewarding inside jokes building depth and resonance ... It is the strength of the female characters, though, that truly binds this collection together. Women appear to sacrifice for others, but at the root of those acts of generosity lies an unabashed commitment to making their lives exactly as they want them to be.
... rich ... The delightfully idiosyncratic prose distinguishes each of the narrator’s points of view within common themes of love, friendship, sex, and loyalty. These stories showcase the wide range of Cross-Smith’s talent.
Most of the stories are quite short and feature vivid sensory detail; the author has a gift for describing smells in particular and using them to conjure emotion. But the stories tend to lack layers; they are beginnings without middles and endings, as if they were drafted from writing prompts and then polished, by a skilled author, without further development ... The language is rich and rhythmic, the sentiment fresh, but devoid of context, it resonates only so deeply. Even the more traditional stories read like vignettes, constellations of pretty images and ideas that make for scenes, not stories. Sometimes characters recur or side characters from one story emerge as main characters in another. But too often characters who are supposed to be close family, friends, or partners explain things to each other for the benefit of the reader. The book includes some promising characters and premises as well as flashes of brilliant writing and insight, but ultimately, the individual stories and their cumulative effect don’t live up to these moments ... Pithy turns of phrase and wordplay can't carry a whole collection.