The eleven stories in Sara Rauch’s What Shines from It are rife with the physical and psychic wounds of everyday life. In “Beholden,” girl meets boy meets the unsettled spirits of post-9/11 New York City, but her future can’t hold them all. In “Kitten,” a struggling veteran and his wife argue over adopting an abandoned kitten, deepening their financial and emotional rifts. In “Abandon,” a ghost-baby ravages a woman’s body following a late-term miscarriage, marring her chances for new love. And in “Kintsukuroi,” a married potter falls for a married geologist and discovers the luminosity of being broken.
What Shines from It is populated by women on the verge of transcendence—brimming with anger and love—and working-class artists haunted by the ghosts of their desires. Abiding by a distinctly guarded New England sensibility, these stories inhabit the borderlands of long-established cities, where humans are still learning to embrace the natural world. Subtly exploring sexualities, relationships, birth and rebirth, identity, ghosts, and longing, Rauch searches for the places where our protective shells are cracked and, in spare, poetic language, limns those edges of loneliness and loss with light.
“Sara Rauch’s Characters Bleed, Cheat, and Make Art” —New England Public Media
“[R]azor sharp stories from a writer with something important to say.” —Sheldon Lee Compton, Enclave
“Unforgettable.” —After the Pause
“Luminously rich.” —The Nerd Daily
“Sensitive and achingly real.” —Beaches and Books
“Personal, yet tense as all hell.” —Michael Czyzniejewski, Story366
“Deftly examin[es] the murky currents of heartbreak and heartache.” —Elaine Mead, The Book Slut
“Sara Rauch sneaks up on you with these stories, which seem so perfectly quiet before leveling you with their emotional wallop. These are people we know, or wish we did, people we pull for, hope for, and Rauch’s rare mastery of subtlety, and an eye just slightly, but exquisitely, off-kilter, draws us into their lives as if they were our own. Way beyond promising, it’s these stories themselves that flat-out shine. Sara Rauch is the real deal.”
—Pete Fromm, author of A Job You Mostly Won’t Know How to Do
“The stories in Sara Rauch’s What Shines from It are lit from within: they glow with intelligence, pathos, and startling insights into the human tragicomedy. This is an extraordinary debut from a writer who has, I daresay, a long and distinguished career ahead of her.”
—Christine Sneed, author of Little Known Facts and The Virginity of Famous Men
“What Shines from It is a classic story collection made contemporary. Familiar plots and settings become refreshed with new angles, and stories that appear placid reveal tremendous depth and nuance. The characters in these stories are complex, tender, and deeply human.”
—Eric Shonkwiler, author of 8th Street Power & Light
“In Sara Rauch’s vivid, tender collection, she dissects the mundane to suss out the figments and phantoms her characters try, mightily, to escape, and doesn’t give them an inch. In quiet moments—when they’re on the brink, relationships teetering, strangers clutching one another, hungry in all ways—they’re held accountable and often left asking where they go from here. And yet, at the center of each of these stories is a bright yearning, a desire to be understood, the question of how to piece ourselves back together after tragedy or heartache or even amid the splendid ordinary. This is a remarkable collection that seeks to catalog the triumphs and agonies of everyday life—an elegantly crafted debut, both empathetic and stirring.”
—Robert James Russell, author of Mesilla and Sea of Trees
“From the California coast to Midtown Manhattan, Sara Rauch’s stories situate us alongside an unforgettable cast of up-and-comers and down-and-outers. These punchy tales amplify quiet moments of grace in between tragedies. What Shines from It is a deeply moving and momentous debut.”
—Ryan Ridge, author of New Bad News
“What Shines from It tells stories of couples coming together and falling apart—sometimes at once. You’ll find no Hollywood theatrics here, just keenly observed tales of characters and relationships that, like the gold-seamed vase in “Kintsukuroi,” show their cracks. With intelligence and grace, Sara Rauch illuminates the beauty in brokenness and the eternal union of love and loss.”
—Jennifer Wortman, author of This. This. This. Is. Love. Love. Love.