Goods & Effects

goods & effects cover image of a woman leaning her head on her hand

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Al Schnupp 2021

Hannah Mercer, bereft after the death of her husband and sons, hits the road in an old truck that she’s converted into a mobile dry goods store in this novella. The story definitely has its charm; by the last page readers will be invested in the welfare of each character in the story.

As she criss-crosses the Missouri countryside, Hannah interacts with old neighbors and makes new friends. Their stories will engage you, and you will be compelled to find out what happens to Vivian, or Darla, or LeRoy, Ethel, and Sam. There is one big plot twist – you can’t miss it – but it happens so fast, and you’ll be so startled, the you’ll wish for more detail.

The narrative is straightforward, and the prose spare; it would have to be, with over twenty years of life covered in 140 pages. The pace is consistent. There are a couple of typos, and more specific contextual cues at the beginning of the book would have helped the reader to place the story in time and to get more of a feel for Hannah’s age.

As with people, though, flaws add character, and that’s the case with Goods and Effects. Its quirky characters radiate kindness and humor, and the plotlines will hold your interest. If you enjoy midcentury nostalgic fiction or regional Midwestern stories based on Mennonite characters, this is a tale you will enjoy.

P.S. Goods & Effects has a few artistic references that bear further exploration; readers, do yourselves a favor and research those references. I’m doing so now, days after submitting the review, and as a result I’ve been introduced to an artist whose work I will enjoy exploring. I’m not naming names though; you’ll have to read the book! It’s available on Amazon. (Link will open on a separate tab.)

Thank you to the author, Antelope Press, and Reedsy Discovery, from whom I received a free ARC of this book in return for my honest review.

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