Normally I don’t love short stories, but something about “Halfway Up A Hill,” by T.A. Morton was appealing. It’s set in Hong Kong and all of the stories in the book are centered around a coffee shop which is located (you guessed it) halfway up the hill. Although each story is independent and therefore can be read as a standalone story, there is a connecting link between them all. For example, a character who is the protagonist in one story may also have a special guest appearance in another story. I’ve never read a collection of short stories that did that before and I found it to be really creative and made the book more entertaining.
I loved the character development and the attention to detail that Morton uses in her writing. I had no problem picturing the coffee shop (which is a character itself) clearly. Like most collections of short stories, there are some that are more interesting than others. I really enjoyed “Jasmine’s Choice,” a story about a coffee barista who seems to lack confidence in herself, likely due to the harsh treatment she receives from her family as well as her so-called friend, Coco. The story reminded me of how petty people can be towards each other and how jealousy can ruin a friendship.
Much of this book is heartfelt, funny, and at times cringe-worthy! There were a few scenes where a male character is hitting on a female character (or vice versa) and it’s clear that the feelings are not reciprocated and the moment is completely awkward.
In all, I enjoyed this book mostly because of the characters. I wished there was a little bit more of Hong Kong’s culture, and maybe a little bit more background into why some of the westerners had moved there. But otherwise it’s a good read. It has certainly helped me appreciate the short-story genre a little more.
Personal note: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.