Warning: This review requires honest self-awareness and slight participation from you.

 

Raise your hand if you’ve ever, in your whole life, felt as if you were not pretty or handsome (I haven’t forgotten you, Men).

Some of you are saying, “Well, of course, but isn’t beauty in the eye of the beholder anyway?” Others of you aren’t raising your hand at all (Liars). The rest of you have all five fingertips reaching toward the Heavens, screaming “Me! Me!” I hear you, Brothers and Sisters.

Here’s a little secret: I grew up in a small town very similar to the setting for Patricia Ann McNair’s debut collection of loosely linked stories, The Temple of Air. I know those sprawling fields, the quiet starry nights interrupted only by the occasional passing freight train, the speed at which juicy gossip travels, the type of connection you build with someone from being their neighbor your whole life. Small towns are a catch-all for every type of person and McNair shows the variety, no two alike, contrary to the stereotypes. She reaches down deep into the cores of her characters, pulls out their secrets, the things that make them human, and presents them to you in this book.