“Everyone who is alive has a ghost inside them, don’t they?”
Get In Trouble is Kelly Link’s third collection of short stories for adults, and her best work to date in my not-so-humble opinion (I loved her last collection, Magic for Beginners, so that’s saying something). Link is a master of creating different story shapes and then telling them from innovative angles. Her writing is wholly original without being intimidating or hollow, comprised of fully fleshed-out characters and intriguing scenarios. Many of these stories explore loss and identity in ways that are thought-provoking yet still charming. Some of my favorites are The Summer People, Light, and Two Houses.
In The Summer People, a teenage girl named Fran lives and works in a resort town full of seasonal tourists. She’s lonely and has trouble making friends her own age. However, one day one of her class mates (Ophelia) tags along with her at work and they both run errands and help clean for the tourists. Soon Ophelia realizes that some of the summer people are not like the other guests. These visitors never want anyone to see them, but they charm the new girl by gifting her clever hand-made trinkets. The secretive guests enamor Ophelia, but with dark consequences.
Another favorite from the collection is Light, set in a chaotic world where pocket universes exist and children born with 2 shadows can grow a twin. The world suffers an epidemic of people falling asleep and not waking up, and the main character works at a warehouse where sleeping bodies are stored. The story examines themes of identity and redemption while focusing on the main character’s rocky relationship with her dysfunctional twin brother, making for one unforgettable story.
My third recommendation from Get In Trouble is the story titled Two Houses. This one has major Bradbury vibes, and is set in space as astronauts tell ghost stories on their ship, The House of Mystery. While exploring themes of Americana, doubles, and memory’s role in the future, this story begs the reader to ponder: What makes a house haunted? And what happened to The House of Mystery's sister ship, The House of Secrets?
This collection houses all of the comfortable trimmings of nostalgia with a bite of fairytale, a creeping tickle of supernatural, and the hum of the future. Recommended for readers who like Ray Bradbury, Shirley Jackson, Karen Russell, Peter S. Beagle, and Kathryn Davis.