Review of "The Very Old Man" by Jenny Milchman

A chance encounter in a grocery store spooks a young mother. When small accidents begin to happen around her young child, she wonders if the old man who'd given her daughter a quarter is to blame.

The single point of view from a paranoid character always makes for an interesting read.  There's always that undercurrent of uncertainty.  Is the character blowing things out of proportion?  Or is there really something to be afraid of?

Milchman does an excellent job presenting just such a character.  Add to the mix that our protagonist is a mother; so her fear is accentuated in an attempt to protect her child.  While the mother's suspicions may seem wild, you empathize with her.

While I understood that the husband's role was to provide the "voice of reason" in this story (reassuring his wife that she was just overreacting), I almost wish he had not been included.  Given how little evidence we already have that the old man may have been up to something, the husband's logic can't help but ring true in the mind of the reader.  I felt this slightly diminished the intensity of the concluding scene.

But this was a fun story, nonetheless.  As the collection title suggests, a good lunch read.

3/5 stars
Reviewed by Alain Gomez


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