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Joan Fern Shaw

Ottawa, Oberon Press, 1991. 75pp, paper, ISBN 0-88750-842 (cloth) $23.95, ISBN 0-88750-844-8 (paper) $11.95. CIP

Grades 10 and up/Ages 15 and up
Reviewed by Janice Vaudry.

Volume 19 Number 5
1991 October

Managing Just Fine is Joan Fern Shaw's second collection of short stories. Her first collection, Raspberry Vinegar, won the Gerald Lamport Award, and this too is worthy of our attention. These seven stories celebrate relation­ships between genuine everyday people. As the author herself writes, these are "people who manage their lives as best they can, despite the difficulties they encounter."

Shaw depicts life in a realistic way — we recognize the people of whom she writes. The collection's theme can be found in the title, which is also the title of one of the stories. Shaw shows us that we can manage in life despite hardship, relationships that deviate from our plans, and the everyday problems with which life confronts us. This is not to suggest that Managing Just Fine is sombre and dark reading, rather the opposite. It is a delightful read full of humour at unexpected turns.

The organization of the stories allows the book to flow smoothly. It lacks an index, though, which makes it difficult to find favourite stories again. The book's theme would lend itself to discussion in Canadian literature classes and would be a welcome addition to a curriculum.

Highly recommended.

Janice Vaudry, Bishop's College School, Lennoxville, Que.
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