Ordinary Hazards – Quietly Stunning Debut Novel
Ordinary Hazards, is a quietly stunning story. In her debut novel, Anna Bruno penned this poignant story like a powerful train moving through a long tunnel. As this proverbial train moves slowing through the long dark tunnel it eventually emerges on the other side. In the light, it is now free to continue its journey. Ordinary Hazards is the story of Emma, a successful businesswoman in New York City. Emma is on a lonely emotional journey. Her journey will take her back to a small town in upstate New York. It is the town where she met and married Lucas. I find myself wondering if Emma will make it through her own dark tunnel. I am hopeful that she will emerge on the other side, where there is light at the end of the tunnel.
Most of this story takes place in the Final Final Bar. The name of the bar is appropriate as the regulars there have come to the place they need to be. They have come to the last place, the Final Final. Whether among friend or foe it does not matter. The Final Final is their second home. It’s the place they come to drink, to argue, and to…what? Do they hypothesize about all things big and small? Or do they commiserate about how life can have an overwhelming capacity to go wrong? Or maybe they are at the Final Final to drown their sorrows, their hurts, and whatever else it is that brings them down in life. But this story is about Emma and Lucas. And we will hear it from Emma.
Ordinary Hazards is an apt title for this heart-wrenchingly soulful story. Bruno has expertly crafted an intelligent, insightful and engrossing story of love and of a prevailing sorrow. The Final Final is the very place that allows us to experience their moods, temperaments and mentalities. And as in most real life situations, that feels like an accurate depiction of not only the patrons who frequent the bar, but maybe of society itself.
There is one great tragedy in Ordinary Hazards, yet there are so many, dare I say, minor tragedies in everyone’s lives. But my use of the word “minor” seems like the wrong choice here. Why? Because, who can really understand the struggles of another? Who’s hurt is more significant? The truth, I fear, is that the answer is, no one. And although there is one great tragedy in this story, can we really hope to separate it from those who are affected by it from those who are not? You see, there are many tragedies in this story. And yet, just as in real life, tragedies are everywhere we turn.
I don’t know if there is a moral to this story. If there is, then maybe it is that we all must make our own personal journey through life. And along our passage through life we may experience happiness, sorrow, love, hate, hope and hopelessness. And if we seek to make it through to the other side, maybe, just maybe, we can give and receive forgiveness. Maybe the answer might be just that simple, or it might be as tremendously difficult?
Bravo Anna Bruno! You brought me to a dumpy bar at the end of town. You brought me to the Final Final. Then you made me think and you made me feel. And…you brought tears to my eyes.