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Our Love Could Light the World

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  75 ratings  ·  45 reviews
You know the Dugans. They're that scrappy family that lives down the street. Their yard is overgrown, they don't pick up after their dog, their five children run free--leaving chaos in their wake--and the father hasn't earned a cent in years. The wife holds them together on her income alone. You wouldn't want them for neighbors--but from a distance, they're quite entertain ...more
Paperback, 202 pages
Published May 23rd 2013 by She Writes Press (first published August 18th 2011)
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Average rating 3.93  · 
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Jul 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The knock I have against most literary fiction is endless navel gazing forsakes plot in the supposed name of character. And it’s not like these stories are terribly plot-oriented; character still drives the work, but here that study feels organic, the result of circumstance and situation rather than an excuse to talk endlessly. In short, these tales feel like real world problems navigated by a real world family. And Parrish's taut, lean style sucks you in.
In this case, the family is the Dugans
Jun 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
Have I mentioned before that I'm a fan of short stories? Of course I have! Many, many times. And for many, many reasons. The biggest reason I'm a fan of short stories - the good ones - is simply because they are good. They also make for great short reads when you're pinched for time. Short stories can be sort of a commitment free way of sampling new-to-you authors. And they're intriguing little snippets of fiction that stand on their own as an entire story with plot and character development. So ...more
Shari Larsen
Jul 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This book is a collection of short stories about the Dugan family, a dysfunctional, but entertaining from a distance sort of family. The stories focus on different family members throughout the years; more character driven than plot driven. Though the stories dealt with some dark subject matter, such as alcoholism, divorce, and abuse, there was also humor and glimmers of hope.

I really enjoyed these stories, and seeing how each family member changed over the years, some for better, some for worse
May 24, 2013 rated it really liked it
**Won in a Goodreads Giveaway**

This book was at times funny, heartbreaking, and touching. It's not quite a novel, but related short stories that tell the tale of the family and their various relatives.

I wish we had seen more of Foster, and maybe a little less of Angie, but the book works as it stands.

Definitely recommended.
May 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
A marvelous discovery. Ms. Parrish has crafted short stories worthy of O'Connor or Malloy, set in the suburbs and rural zones of contemporary working class America. Try these stories.
Jun 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
When I received an email asking me if I was interested in reviewing a book of linked short stories about a family with five children set in the Finger Lakes region of New York State, I jumped at the opportunity. I grew up in the Finger Lakes region and I am one of five siblings. The description intrigued me.

That is where most of the similarity ends, although many of these characters seemed like people we all have known. After introducing the five children- chunky teenage Angie, who "ruled her si
Jun 15, 2013 rated it liked it
See more reviews on The Best Books Ever!

This book is an excellent collection of short stories all centered around the Dugan family. The Dugans are fractured, dysfunctional, but they're trying their best. Usually. We follow the Dugans through tough times, divorce, uncertainty, upheaval and despite it all, they still care for each other in their own way. Sometimes they just don't know how to show it right, that's all.

Each story jumps the plot ahead in time, so you're really reading a series of vi
Nancy Hill
Sep 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
While Your Love Could Light the World is classified as a collection of short stories, it reads like a novel since the stories revolve around members of the same family and are told in chronological order. Each story is engaging in itself, but it is really the sum of the parts that give it substance.

When I read a book, I tend to get emotionally involved with the characters. Depending on their actions and motivations, I want them either to succeed or to get their just rewards.

This is not how I r
May 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Originally posted on my blog: http://conceptualreception.blogspot.c...

Holy wow. Anne Leigh Parrish is an incredibly talented storyteller and this collection is no exception. I know I've been talking a lot about character development in my last few posts, and "Our Love Could Light the World" is an epic example of three-dimensional, believable humans whose motivations and choices are consistently linked.

One of my favorite characters is the Dugan's oldest daughter, Angie. We see her growth from a d
Paula Sophia
Aug 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Anne Leigh Parrish’s “Our Love Could Light the World” explores the life of an American family in a series of related short stories. One might say the Dugans are the definition of dysfunctional, but their issues reflect the aspirations and failures of so many struggling families that one can hardly say they are atypical in any way. In fact, the term dysfunctional no longer has merit. What family is totally functional, nurturing, and uplifting, anyway? This is not to say that “Our Love Could Light ...more
Pam McGaffin
May 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The linked stories in Our Love Could Light the World add up to a satisfyingly vivid portrait of a broken family, the Dugans. The author, Anne Leigh Parrish, is right – you wouldn’t want these people as neighbors. This is the kind of family that brings down home values – alcoholic dad, unhappy mom, wild brood of kids and a freely pooping dog. As characters, however, they’re absolutely endearing and often hilarious. While many of the things they do make you cringe – the children, for example, have ...more
Laurie Grove
Jul 31, 2013 rated it it was amazing
These short stories are about the Dugan family of upstate New York, intertwined with the goings-on of extended family in Montana. At first glance, the Dugans are just a messy, no count trashy family in an old house, but then the writer sets each character apart as individuals so the reader gets to know them and starts caring what happens to them. By the end of the book I felt most connected to the mother,Lavinia, and Patty, a relative in Montana. I also felt good about the way Angie matured and ...more
May 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
I had been introduced to the Dugan family in one of the author's previously published works, "All the Roads That Lead From Home" (which I also thoroughly enjoyed, by the way). I was surprised and happy to discover this book continued their story, each chapter highlighting different members of the family along with their life struggles. I think what struck me the most was how the parents, although divorced and extremely flawed in nature, stepped up to help their children when they needed them the ...more
Jan 19, 2014 rated it liked it
I really enjoyed the concept of this book. What a good way to get to know the Dugans. They are a dysfunctional family but hey what family is without their problems. Each story progressed the time line. I do have to admit that while I did enjoy reading about the Dugans, that the first couple of stories were kind of depressing. In fact, I had to put the book down for a bit and read something lighter before continuing on with this book.

So I guess you could say that I enjoyed the later stories bette
Teresa Keefer
Sep 05, 2013 rated it really liked it
This book by Anne Leigh Parrish is a series of short stories that portray the dysfunctional Dugan family and their day to day trials and tribulations in a poignant manner. The book had me hooked from the very first short story where one of Parrish's well-described characters reached out and surprised me. Parrish's style of writing is unprecedented by any other author I have read in the past and the stories had me continuing to turn the pages until the very end. She brought the characters with al ...more
Rosie Amber
Jul 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this book because I have been disappointed by some short story books in the past. The author uses each story to draw the reader in to an American family living in the New York finger lakes area. Each story looks at a member of the household or a family member connected with them and the reader watches them grow as the years pass. It's very realistic and soul searching as everyone searches for the ultimate happiness. ...more
Jul 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
Good summer read. The stories blend nicely to be a sort of snapshot of moments in a normal dysfunctional. She makes each character read as a real person everyone has flaws and good sides as well. No spoilers here though read the book you might learn something about the world or your neighbors or even yourself. I forgot to thank Goodreads as I won this book in one of their givaways. Glad I entered:)
Apr 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
I usually avoid short stories, but this book proved to be a treasure. The inter-connected stories of the Dugan family are a device reminiscent of the noteworthy Olive Kitteridge that works very well to give readers an opportunity to become familiar with this functionally dysfunctional family. The characters are fully known in vignettes that feature them both individually and as a whole.
Tammi Corbin
Sep 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
Good short stories! This book kept me involved to see what would happen next. Was hard for me to put down! Over all a great read
Sarah Obsesses over Books & Cookies
started this a year and a half ago-ish and I did love the stories but some other shiny new book got me distracted and I never went back to it so I donated it to the library and a month later (because of course) was like I WANT TO FINISH THAT BOOK! (and because no library has it I bought a used copy online thus learning my lesson to think three times before donating half read books) because i saw that the author wrote a novel based on one of the characters and I needed to know how the book ended ...more
Nov 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Our Love Could Light the World follows one small-town family named the Dugans for over a decade through divorce, remarriage, young love, and house fires. Like Elizabeth Strout’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Olive Kitteridge, this new book by Anne Leigh Parrish is that rare species of fiction—a novel in stories. Each episode in the family saga is structured as a stand-alone story, while also fitting beautifully into a full-length narrative.
Such works are uncommon, no doubt, because they’re so hard to
Jan 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literary-fiction
Anne Leigh Parrish's set of interconnected stories follows the Dugan family of upper New York state over several decades of their lives. Lavinia and Potter married young, had five children and there's never enough money or attention to go around. Lavinia is making the family's wages since Potter lost his job, and what started as a temporary situation is now set in stone. It would be different if Potter kept the house and kids like she would, but he spends his days frittering time away and she co ...more
Jennifer Goncalves
Oct 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Everyone can relate to this book in some way, I promise! These short stories take you on a trip through the life of the Dugan family. Husband, wife, children dog, sister, new's got everything. You will experience it as they do. Everyone who reads this will find the character they relate to most. As a woman, daughter, wife and mother I related most to Angie. The oldest of the Dugan children. She made choices and sacrifices for her family. This book is a collection of life lessons, Ou ...more
Leah (Books Speak Volumes)
I’ve really been enjoying linked short stories lately, and Our Love Could Light the World is an enjoyable collection of stories centering on the Dugans, a scrappy down-at-the-heels family in the New York Finger Lakes region.

The setting is what attracted me to this book when one of the lovely ladies at TLC Book Tours asked if I would like to review it. I live near the Finger Lakes and have many happy memories of summer vacations in rented cottages on one of the lakes, so I was thrilled to read a
Jun 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
We all have some "Dugans" in our neighborhood, or have known them at some point. Poverty-stricken and their home and yard in a shambles. On the outside, they seem to be a wreck and loveless. But you don't know what's going on behind the scenes. You don't see the warmth and love that exists there in those flawed human beings.

The Dugans consist of parents Potter and Lavinia, and their five children.

Potter is an alcoholic who does construction and the like off and on. He isn't of much use to anyone
Our Love Could Light the World by Anne Leigh Parrish

The Dugans are a family of 7 trying to make ends meet once again in a new rental home. The yard doesn’t get mowed, the house is a mess, and the five children run free and horrify their neighbors. One day Lavinia decides she cannot live like that anymore and leaves her husband. All their lives change at that moment as the family has to shift in new ways.

The story was very slow and felt choppy and confusing. There were times that within a few s
Emmy Kuipers
Aug 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
Our Love Could Light The World is a collection of short stories that offer an insight into an American family that struggles with life, alcohol, disappointments and love. Each chapter reveals a bit more of the characters in the book, their relationships with each other and above all, the deep ties of family that hold them together.

The stories progress over time as we meet Angie, an awkward, overweight teenager who tries to find her way into adulthood and steers for a career in helping people who
Set of twelve well-written interlinking stories about one American family--The Dugan's.

An excerpt from my review:

What makes these stories and the book special is that they are all about one family and with the setting over several years, I liked how we got to see the different family members change throughout the book. For some that means growth and some self-understanding, for others it looks like just pain and setbacks. Pretty realistic, as in my experience (there were eight children on our c
Mary Latela
Anne Leigh Parrish has created another gem with Our Love Could Light the World. It’s not that we probably know people like the Dugans. It’s not that we have flaws, too. It’s not just that marriages can fall apart, or that people can leave, or that when you think it can’t get any worse, unpredictable acts of kindness happen. The magic is in taking an ordinary family with rather ordinary stresses and using clear and compelling language to pinpoint the moments in their lives when life changes.
As th
Dec 26, 2013 rated it really liked it
Originally posted on my blog, A Lovely Bookshelf on the Wall:

The short stories in Our Love Could Light the World are so interconnected, the book reads almost like a novel with changing perspectives. This family is full of character and pluck; each member a unique, complex person. Especially the mother, Lavinia. Wow. As soon as I wanted to get all judgy, I'd change my mind. There were times I despised her, loved her, pitied her, and cheered for her. And Angie, the oldest of the five siblings. I s
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