****The grace of the everyday

By Lindsay Edmunds on November 9, 2014

Format: Kindle Edition

If you want a change from stories about characters with superpowers who rush in to save the country/the world/the known universe, this book by Mary Pat Hyland might be the ticket. It is set in a part of New York about which stories are not often written: the Southern Tier. A strong ribbon of grace weaves through these tales.

One story, “The Rush Hour Angels,” is about an elderly widow who takes a physical risk to help a friend and finds herself coming back to life. Another, “The Driveway Ladies Chorus,” is about neighbors who sit on lawn chairs at the top of a driveway, drinking a lethal concoction called Chocolate Orgasm and spying on a new neighbor. This is a young woman from Manhattan, who at first doesn’t want to know them and then finds they are the key to understanding something about her marriage.

The characters deal with aging and growing up, parenthood and marriage, love and betrayal, faith and families — and life in a part of the country acquainted with hard times and trying to adapt to new realities. They lack superpowers, but not stories.