Thursday 20 October 2016

Review by Lerah Mae Barcenilla of "Lost and Found: Stories of Home by Leicestershire Writers," ed. Farhana Shaikh, Beth-Ann Sher and Richard Sheehan

From tales set in Swedish refugee camps, houses filled with history, travelling circuses and even in space, Lost and Found: Stories of Home by Leicestershire Writers (Dahlia Publishing, 2016) captures the diversity of voices that whisper and shout from every corner of Leicester, as they weave the threads to create a tapestry stitched with the meanings of ‘home’.

There are tales that question the essence of home, how homes may differ from one to another, yet despite it all ‘we all go home eventually’ (as in the story 'Zenith') – no matter where that may be. There are powerful stories that tug at our heartstrings, the heartache that gets lodged in our throats, ‘the searing pain of loss’. And it’s there, in the hollowness of words, the gradual healing of cracks as one finds a new home (in the story 'Not Home').

There are tales of maybes, what ifs and of possibilities ('Adrian'). Tales laced with memory. Of something fond, but fuelled by trauma amidst vivid descriptions of football stadiums – beauty in its ‘terrible simplicity’ ('Home Game'). Tales that explore the search for a lost home and its connection with our very identity: ‘I know I’ve become a stranger to them, and to myself’ ('Back Home'). While there is something raw and vulnerable, the honest helplessness in the words ‘I can’t find the way home,’ but also the strange wistfulness in finding home in music ('Zöe K.'). We see a battle between familiarity and unfamiliarity, between staying and moving on. Tales of memory and forgetting; of separation, exploration and travel. Of uncertainty, reassurance and acceptance, ‘This is home now. Just be’ ('Moving the Furniture'). Yet behind the nostalgia and hope lurk something morbid, an unexpected dark turn of events (as in 'Colour').

Then there are stories that hit too close to home. Stories reminiscing about the curiosity that comes with the first year of university, and the melancholy that the final year brings. The uncertainty and fear that haunts the future, that prowls what comes after ('Home From Home'). And lastly, there are tales painted with the inevitable passing of time, and a homesickness for something lost. The story where one forgets and another remembers, and I’m not quite sure what’s worse (as in 'Shelter').

But, perhaps, it’s just like as Hermann Hesse wrote: 'every path leads home'. In this collection of short stories, we are given the privilege to peer into the lives of others, to glimpse, even for a moment, what ‘home’ means to them. And, maybe, in doing so, we’ll discover what ‘home’ means to us.

About the reviewer
Born in Manila, Philippines, Lerah Mae Barcenilla is currently a third year English undergraduate at the University of Leicester. Her writing has been published in The Student Wordsmith, The Purple Breakfast Review, PETRie Inventory and Culturefly. In her spare time, you can find her highly-caffeinated self idly scribbling on a notebook trying to write her two-somethings every day or taking photographs of cherry blossoms. You can find more of her writing and photography at

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