Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Review: Sympathetic People

Sympathetic People
by Donna Baier Stein


Both the beauty and frailty of human connections are seen in the thirteen stories collected in Sympathetic People. Here are women and men struggling to find love, meaning, happiness in marriage, adulterous affairs, art, meditation, and even the passage from life to death. Longing generated by loss is everywhere--in the death of a son, the end of a marriage, the slide from hope ignited by Neil Armstrong’s moon walk to hopelessness after President Kennedy’s death.


It does not surprise me at all that Stein's book has such amazing reviews on sites such as Amazon and Goodreads. It is a wonderful woven book of short stories about life and all its intricacies. I don't usually read short story collections in one gulp, so to speak, but this book was so easy to get lost in. The author took the time to cultivate each character and storyline, making the reader CARE about the stories themselves. The stories in Sympathetic People center around everything and emotion that goes along with having a family. The events and feelings that are experienced and absorbed by the characters are simultaneously felt by the reader. This is exactly what should happen in a book. 

About the Author

Donna Baier Stein’s writing has appeared in Virginia Quarterly Review, Kansas Quarterly, New York Stories, Prairie Schooner, Washingtonian, many other journals and anthologies from Simon & Schuster and The Spirit That Moves us Press. Her short story collection was a Finalist in the Iowa Fiction Awards and will be published, as Sympathetic People, in 2013 by Serving House Books. She has received the PEN/New England Discovery Award for Fiction, a Johns Hopkins University Writing Seminars Fellowship, Bread Loaf Scholarship, a grant from the New Jersey Council of the Arts, prizes from the Poetry Council of Virginia, two Pushcart nominations, and an Honorable Mention in the 2013 Allen E. Ginsberg Poetry Awards. Her poetry chapbook Sometimes You Sense the Difference was published in 2012 by Finishing Line Press. One of her stories was performed by Tony-award winning actress Maryann Plunkett at Playwrights Theatre in Madison, NJ. Donna was a Founding Editor of Bellevue Literary Review and founded and currently publishes Tiferet: A Journal of Spiritual Literature ( She is also an award-winning copywriter. Her website is 

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