REVIEW: “A Helping Hand” by Samantha Trisken

Review of Samantha Trisken, “A Helping Hand”, in Myths, Monsters, and Mutations, edited by Jessica Augustsson (JayHenge Publications, 2017): 238-244. — Purchase here. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman. (Read the review of the anthology.)

I feel pretty strongly that every story needs to have a purpose, a reason why it has to be told, why this story, rather than another story. Sometimes that purpose is what the story itself has to say, the way in which the world is improved because of something in the story itself; sometimes it is simply that the story gives pleasure to those who read it; and sometimes the purpose is simply that the author is better off for having written it than they would have been had they not.

Given this, everything I read I read with a pervasive underlying question “Why this story?” I thought that a lot while reading the opening of Trisken’s tale, in which a young girl, Tessa, escapes a would-be abductor only to witness his murder.

The importance of that scene is that it introduces us to Dillon, and the centerpoint of the story is Tessa’s relationship with Dillon. It is engrossing to see the complexities of this relationship and how it develops, but the other consequences of the opening — the trauma that the witness of a murder has to have caused — seem nowhere taken up, and I found this made it hard for me to fully engage with the story. The end brings no further resolution: Why this story? I don’t know. Maybe someone else reading it coming with a different background and different experiences might be able to answer that question.