Saturday 4 December 2021

Behind the Wheel - Carolyn Astfalk - A Contemporary Christian Short Story

Behind the Wheel: 
A Contemporary Christian Short Story
Carolyn Astfalk
Multa Verba
eISBN 9780997971

I previously read this story in the anthology Secrets: Visible & Invisible 7 Amazing Stories from the Catholic Teen Books authors. I picked it up for two reasons, first I have greatly enjoyed everything of hers that I have read and benefited from it. Second I remember the characters and  returning to the story was like a visit with old friends. 

I have read five novels by Carolyn Astfalk and her short story in the collection mentioned above and in; Treasures: Visible & Invisible 8 Stories for Teens and Gifts Visible & Invisible 8 Christmas Stories for Teens. Reading this impacted me more reading it as a stand-alone story. Also reading it now as my own children are the ages of those in the story. I said previously about stories in anthologies that I thought it is sort of like having a mixed box of chocolates. If you have 2 or three, they lose a bit of their distinctiveness. And as much as I love anthologies, there is something to be said about reading the stories in isolation. Returning to this story apart from the anthology setting has reminded me how excellent Carolyn’s writing is!

My quick summary of the story when I read it more than a year ago in the collection was:

“I have been hearing about the writings of Carolyn Astfalk and I have picked up three of her novels. I just have not got around to reading them. But after reading this short story the novel Rightfully Ours, with the same characters jumped to the top of my reading list. This story is about taking a risk and breaking rules. But when the moment comes, will character come through or will it self-preservation win out? It was a great story and I look forward to reading more by Astfalk.”

And I enjoyed this story so much I went on and have since read everything Astfalk has published.  The Description of the short story version is:

“Sean Porter needs a ride to meet a girl. Two things stand in his way: a driver and his younger brother, Paul.

"Behind the Wheel" first appeared in Secrets: Visible & Invisible, a collection of short stories by eight Catholic Teen Books authors, all with a secret or two. It features the Porter brothers, Sean and Paul, who readers meet several years later in the full-length novel Rightfully Ours.”

The novel this story leads to as mentioned is Rightfully Ours, and it is an excellent read. But this short story is also a wonderful read. And as my own children at home are now 15, almost 14 and 11 this story really hit home. A section that really impacted me is:

“Dad’s gaze wandered the page again. “Define fortitude.” 

“Uh, courage,” Paul said with a note of uncertainty. 

Dad nodded then read from the page margin: “Virtue that ensures firmness in difficulties. Strengthens the resolve to resist temptations, overcome obstacles. Enables one to conquer fears, face trials and persecution.” The book smacked shut, and Dad placed it on the table. 

“Despite what happened,” he leveled a pointed look at Sean, “I’ve seen evidence of fortitude in both of you tonight. Paul, you called me when you knew you’d be in trouble with both me and Sean. Because it was the right thing to do.” 

Paul swallowed and gave the slightest nod.”

The story has a wonderful message. And yet it also really caused me to reflect, and think, to think back on my own life and on where my children are at these days. It is a great story for teens, tweens and adults. It has a great message we could all be reminded of from time to time. It is an excellent offering from the pen of Carolyn Astfalk.


Brian H. Gill said...

Read, and shared (Twitter).

I appreciated the insight regarding anthologies.

Brian H. Gill said...

Trying again - didn't check the CAPTCHA first time.

Read and shared (to Twitter).

Good insight, regarding anthologies.

And yes, indeed. Age and family changes a reader's perceptions. :)