The Hundred Penny Box

The Hundred Penny BoxThe Hundred Penny Box by Sharon Bell Mathis
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The other day they waited
The sky was dark and faded
Solemnly they stated
He has to die
You know he has to die
Jerry Garcia, Cryptical Envelopment


There’s an old saying that if you show a gun, you have to use it. Writers need to be precise. It is with that that I find myself a bit disappointed with the ending here. Dew needed to die.

Without death, the reader is left wanting. This is nothing more than a glimpse, a short story.

There’s a story here, but it feels incomplete to me. There’s a message, but one that is not as tightly knitted as could be. Perhaps a more expansive delving into Dew’s life and her holding onto the box was needed.

The mother was made to be more evil than she needed to be. The father’s story as a boy could have been fleshed out.

Yeah, here I am 35 years after this was bestowed the Newberry Honor critiquing. I get the awkwardness of this. I blame Toastmasters for instilling a need to critique honestly. 🙂

In many ways this story reminds me of a story I wrote in college. The professor loved it, but said it was only a scene, not a story. That’s how I feel about The Hundred Penny Box; it’s a rich scene, a base on which a story is to be told. As it is, it doesn’t tug me the way it could.

Interestingly, I didn’t realize until I finished this that Mathis also wrote Sidewalk Story . I read that with my students, although I see I need to write a review here for it.

This is good writing, a quick read, and compelling. It just doesn’t go far enough for me.

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