Kelli Deeth's first book since her acclaimed 2001 debut The Girl without Anyone (a Globe and Mail Best Book of the Year) is a collection of stories about missed connections and unrequited desire. Deeth's female protagonists confront the emotional complexities of marriage, childlessness, adoption, adolescent longing, friendship, and death; they mourn the loss of youth while grappling with the uncertainties of adulthood.
In "Vera's Room," a woman who is unable to conceive negotiates a tense relationship with the seven-year-old girl she and her husband have adopted. In "Embrace," Theresa, a young woman who has just had an abortion decides to give up on sexual desire and settle with a divorced father who can provide her with safety. And in "Sis," Jenny moves back to Toronto from Winnipeg in order to start her life over and reconnect with her step-brother, with whom she shares complicated and tragic childhood.
These are stories about the vagaries of family and the narrow chasm between longing and grief; with a deft hand and a knowing eye, Kelli Deeth creates stories that are devastating, incisive portraits of dysfunction and desire.
As she stood there, she could almost hear Michael's voice, a firm voice that shook when he was upset. He would tell her to be happy with who she was, to hold her head up, to be proud of the choices she had made, because she had made them with her own well-being in mind. She and Michael were a family, and who was to say they were not? They were a family like anyone else; no one was missing, no one was wanted, no one would leave the other, and no one would be left alone to fend for themselves. The things they said to each other, over and over; words whose meanings brought little comfort, no matter how beautiful and logical they were, no matter how often they were said, who said them or who heard them, whose voice trembled or whose broke.
Vast journeys in miniature, as seen through our flawed jewel of a world. Deeth's deft language and simmering emotion place her amongst our masters of short fiction; her plethora of characters will become such a permanent part of your life, you'll need to rent a van.
?Adam Lewis Schroeder, author of In the Fabled East and Empress of Asia
The mournful, aching stories in Kelli Deeth's The Other Side of Youth play both sides of womanhood - girls mired in the banality of suburban adolescence, adult women struggling with childlessness or empty marriages. Her layers of imagery build exact, poetic worlds.
?Caroline Adderson, The Globe and Mail
A warning: these are the kind of stories, so resonant and startling, that they'll make you lose your breath, want to read sentences aloud, tear off paragraphs and hang them on your wall. Kelli Deeth mines the beauty and longing of women's lives with a rare restraint and precision. These stories are exquisite and heartbreaking, and seem destined to become classics.
?Rebecca Godfrey, author of Under the Bridge and The Torn Skirt
As her debut book of spare stories, The Girl Without Anyone, artfully exhibited, Deeth can write a model story -- compact, distinct, eerie, and stick-with-you memorable. Here, each individual story represents an admirable effort, carefully constructed and observed.
Kelli Deeth delivers powerful narratives that are both alarming and realistic ... The Other Side of Youth is a series of finely honed short stories, the kind that linger in the mind well after the book is finished. The extremely rich subject matter and the author's ability to write satisfying endings could well be the reasons for this. Deeth is a great writer of short fiction, and The Other Side of Youth is the best collection of short stories I have read in recent memory.
?The Globe and Mail
Deeth explores the mysterious hinterland of 30-something women who are on the brink of leaving their youth behind ... [She] touches upon these lives with the deft hand of a writer pulling not from memory, but from some place where an innate self-awareness lies. “PopMatters
The people in Kelli Deeth's stories are beautifully, perfectly confused: full of longing and doubt, moved by urges they can't quite understand. They get into the wrong cars, bring home the wrong guys; they bristle against their edgy domesticity. Birth and death are pole stars here; characters wander from one to the other, finding shelter where they can. This is a brilliant book: elegant, honest, and raw. Kelli Deeth is an astonishing writer.
?David Whitton, author of The Reverse Cowgirl
Deeth illustrates how significant the quotidian marginalization of women - and the concurrent curtailment of their complex desires and opportunities - can truly be.
A collection of acute and subtle short stories ... The prose is startlingly vigilant in its precision.
From The Other Side Of Youth comes an unsparing view of families and romantic relationships wrought by imperfect love. Kelli Deeth's stories are unflinchingly honest and, in their crystalline depictions of unhappiness, rich with compassion.
?Kevin Chong, author of Beauty Plus Pity
Deeth writes deftly and expertly about matters of the heart, about the private conversations we have with ourselves and the burden of loneliness we often feel even within the embrace of our closest, most intimate relationships. Her characters are fully realized-unafraid to reveal either their tough survival instincts or the dark truth of their own vulnerability.
Each story in The Other Side of Youth is a finely tuned powerhouse.
?Quill and Quire (STARRED REVIEW)