cover image Jane of Hearts

Jane of Hearts

Katharine Weber. Paul Dry, $16.95 trade paper (202p) ISBN 978-1-58988-159-4

Weber (Still Life with Monkey) delivers an insightful collection that finds characters in moments of transition as they act on their impulses. “Mr. Antler’s Princess Dust” chronicles the summer romps of fourth-grader Barbara Antler and friend Harriet Rose as they sell potentially poisonous mushrooms to neighbors and make special concoctions for Barbara’s little sister. In “Sleeping,” Harriet babysits for an infant whose mother forbids her to check on the child. “Sunday, Upstate” is a short but heartbreaking story about a wife and mother of four’s quiet contemplations during a family trip gone sour. A young girl repeatedly rides a roller coaster, hypnotized by the bright red button that controls it, and makes a life-altering decision in “Safe.” The title novella, which goes on a bit too long but offers some of the best writing, depicts Jane, an only child whose single mother works late, befriending Tate. Jane soon invites Tate into her misadventures, and the pair break into neighbors’ houses to steal small tokens like seashells and Monopoly houses, and to search for the essence of family that Jane craves. In elegant prose, Weber offers intimate views on her characters’ inner lives. At its best, this offers an ode to the universality of change. (Mar.)