Behind Our Eyes
by Marilyn Brandt Smith (editor), contemporary (2007)
iUniverse, $17.95, ISBN 978-0-595-46493-7
Behind Our Eyes is a collection of poems, essays, and short stories written by 27 authors with seeing disabilities. It's meant to be a Chicken Soup type of anthology and I have to confess, were not for my mistaken assumption that this is a charity anthology, I wouldn't have purchased this one in the first place because I'm not too keen on Chicken Soup-style books. They remind me too much of Hallmark movies - palatable in small doses, but otherwise unbearable.
Fortunately, Behind Our Eyes is not one of those works designed to enlighten people via heavy dosage of feel-good sap. The bulk of the collection are made up of anecdotal accounts of how the authors cope daily with their disabilities, in various situations from the hospital to the courtroom. These accounts are presented in a matter-of-fact manner, many of them allowing the reader to draw their own conclusion without beating them in the head with heavy-handed preaching. The result is a deceptively simple anthology that actually make me pause and think about how these people have to go through life without what many more fortunate people take for granted every day. Granted, some stories are on the preachy side, but I find them to be a minority here. Most stories don't go out of their way to ask for sympathy or understanding. They just present a scenario and show how the protagonist deal with the situation. It is inevitable that I will come across a story or two about courageous seeing eye dogs but hey, given the nature of this anthology, I'm just surprised that there aren't more of them!
While not the most gripping or exciting read, Behind Our Eyes make a pretty interesting and often thought-provoking read, especially when read at leisure at a pace the reader is comfortable with. Sort of how Reader's Digest is best read, really.
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