The Other Man by Selah Janel

The Other Man by Selah Janel
Publisher: Mocha Memoirs Press
Genre: Suspense/Mystery, Contemporary
Length: Short Story (22 pages)
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

All Andrew wanted was the typical American dream: a good career, a nice house, and a loving family. Instead, he has a dead-end job, a cramped apartment, and children who remind him of creatures out of a sci-fi movie. He’s also well aware that he’s not the only man who inhabits his wife’s thoughts and daily life. How can he put up a fight when he’s reminded of the competition every time Bethany turns on the CD player? After one eventful evening meal when expectations, disappointments, and secrets collide, life will never be the same.

Sometimes the good life isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Andrew’s character development was well done. His anger and frustration showed up right away, and his reasons for having those feelings made me sympathize with him even though I didn’t always agree with the choices that he made. What I found most interesting about this character, though, was how much time Ms. Janel gave him to show the audience who he was. Andrew is the kind of person who isn’t easy to figure out at all, so allowing his personality to seep into so many parts of the plot was a smart decision.

I would have liked to see more attention paid to the dialogue. The parents and the little girl in this story all have the same speaking style. This isn’t something I’d expect to find in a business person, a stay-at-home parent, and a five-year-old because their life experiences are so different from one another. It was most surprising to see the girl speak so similarly to her parents. Some of the words she used didn’t sound like things a child that age would say. Had all three of their voices been distinct, I would have given this story a much higher rating.

The descriptions of the small, shabby apartment where Andrew and his family lived made me shudder. The narrator spent so much time showing why this home irritated Andrew that I could imagine its mismatched possessions and sticky furniture perfectly. This is one of those occasions when knowing exactly what the setting looks like is extremely important to understanding why the plot unfolds the way it does. I’m glad that the author spent as much time on these descriptions as she did.

The Other Man kept me guessing until the end. This is a good choice for anyone who likes mysteries that don’t reveal their secrets easily.

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