Holler, Child: Stories by LaToya Watkins

Holler, Child author, courtesy C. Rene Photography

c.2023, Tiny Reparations Books       
224 pages

By Terri Schlichenmeyer
The Truth Contributor

So why didn’t you…?

Your life wasn’t random, there was a plan of some kind somewhere. Why didn’t you pick this path instead of that other, make this choice a priority, decide in favor of something else? Surely, you didn’t simply fall headlong into every opportunity. Now, as in Holler, Child by LaToya Watkins, a collection of short stories, you’ll always wonder what if...

Ever since her son, Hawk, died, news reporters have been sniffing around Mrs. Hawkins’ house, asking questions. She wants to explain why she gave her son away, why he told people he was God’s son before he ended up in Abilene, and why he hurt that little girl. But in “The Mother,” lies come easier than the truth.

After Lettie found her husband, Chuck, dead on the floor, her Momma moved in, though Lettie didn’t want her there. Momma was never loving, like kids need their Mommas to be. She liked to remind Lettie that Chuck was no good. In “Tipping,” Momma’d hurt too many people for too long, but what could Lettie do?

Opal never wanted that dog, but they got the ugly cur for Nate, who’d always wanted an Old English Bulldog. After he had his stroke, though, it seemed like that dog was all he cared for and Opal despised it. In “Moving the Animal,” that dog stood for everything wrong.

Clayton had done nothing but cheat on Lotrece for years and she retaliated in so many petty ways that even she began to think it was silly. One day, she might forgive him but until then, it was more fun to poke him in a dozen little ways, to make him mad and make him feel some sort of way – like wearing lingerie, when he knew darn well that their love life was over. But when she reached for her thong, Lotrece felt the gun in her dresser drawer, the one Clayton said never worked. In the high-tension story, “Sweat,” Clayton lied.

Does it seem like you don’t have enough time to read a book, with all you’ve got going on this time of year? Then you want Holler, Child, because none of these eleven short stories will take long to read, but they’re long on enjoyment.

Using tiny slices of life and cool-as-ice prose, author LaToya Watkins brings readers a series of snap decisions and bad ideas in tales that will keep you guessing. But these are not mystery-like whodunits; instead, they’re everyday tales, brilliantly set in a single afternoon or overnight or two, but with enough back-story inside the set-ups to make you care about each character and to make you have an opinion on what those characters should do. It’s like having a ringside seat up next to the people you know and love to gossip about.

This is a book for anyone who likes surprises in their stories, for short-story fans, or for people who are time-crunched now and always. Find Holler, Child and enjoy, or you’ll always wonder why didn’t you…?