Welcome to the curious world of Elizabeth Stuckey-French. Her exuberant collection is peopled with characters who walk a thin line between reality and delusion, trying to break out of their molds and live a little. With stylish, wry writing, Stuckey-French creates intelligent, poignant, funny fiction. Her characters--mostly Midwesterners trying to make sense of a changing world--are bizarre but strangely lovable. They may lie to make their situations better, but the stories have a resounding emotional truth. In "Junior," we meet a dog psychic who enlists her troubled niece in a moneymaking scheme. In "Electric Wizard," grieving parents beg a teacher to invent poetry and pretend their dead son wrote it. And in the title story, the mother of two young children drives east on a disordered impulse through a blizzard and picks up a gas station attendant along the way. Several of these stories have appeared inThe Atlantic Monthlyand literary reviews, where her work has received recognition and praise. In Stuckey-French's striking fictional world, powerful emotional forces roil the outwardly placid surfaces of her characters' lives--our notions of "normal" are permanently altered, and yet these stories have a generosity of spirit that cannot fail to strike a chord with all of us.