Bonds of Love & Blood provides a compelling short story collection that weaves together disparate lives in many different places and moves across emotional landscapes of connection and alienation alike in the process of exploring the bonds that bind and caress.
Twelve stories center on various forms and aspects of love and their transitional powers: each protagonist faces something different, reacts in a singular manner, and ultimately changes enough to realize either a clearer purpose in life or a better path.
In one example, 'The Pancho Villa Coin', a troubled young girl struggles with the impact of her father's alcoholism and her own helplessness to control her fate and world. In another, a wanderer finds his way through the world in an unexpected manner.
It's satisfying to see a set of stories linked around a common theme, then stretched as far as possible to gain the most from that theme. Under MacDonald's hand, the well-crafted, succinct tales spin and dance - seemingly directionless in the wind of choice and circumstance, but ultimately filled with revelation and connections.
The essence of what makes these short stories revealing (and an art unto themselves) is MacDonald's ability to build new insights from each disparate life. And thus mothers, fathers, wanderers and travelers in life, and even those isolated by weather or poverty all come together through relationships that ultimately transform them.
Don't expect to meet psyches elevated by perfect perceptions; and most of all, don't expect gentle sagas of self-discovery. Bonds of Love & Blood teeters on the gritty edge of complexity without going overboard and its very real protagonists are charged with finding their own, often difficult paths. By supercharging its characters with very believable choices, readers walk the streets, farms, and countries of each of these twelve individuals and their circles and will find these very different journeys engrossing.