Secrets & Lies: Abby Sheaffer Reviews On The Way by Cyn Vargas

Since Curbside Splendor announced plans to publish Cyn Vargas’ debut short story collection last year, the Chicago literary community has hotly anticipated its release. On The Way makes good on reader’s expectations and marks the debut of an incredible new author in literary canon.  

 On The Way kicks off to a sumptuous beginning with “Guate”, a staggering coming-of-age story. “Guate” is replete with exotic details, so much so that the reader can almost feel the sunshine and heat rolling off the page, which makes the plot twist all the more startling.

“Myrna’s Dad” is one of the most perfect short stories I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading. Vargas effortlessly blends humor and poignancy in a manner similar to Chekov. The story’s narrator, Sonia, is an ideal catalyst to carry the action along. The transitions and timing that Vargas incorporates in “Myrna’s Dad” are stunning, making the story’s teasing conclusion so fantastic.

“Keys” follows Sara as she visits her grandparents for the summer in El Salvador. Part mystery, part redemption story, the characters are unique and their connections are strong. Vargas’ fluid writing style allows the heavier, emotional aspects of the story to fall organically into place, and the conclusion is hopeful and strong.

The book’s titular short story, “On The Way”, is a complex tale that features a bitter grandmother and a blossoming young love story. It’s impossible not to feel heartsick for heroine Lucia, a plump thirteen year old on the brink of adulthood. Grungier than the rest of the stories in the collection, Vargas uses the golden filter of nostalgia to exaggerate the dingier aspects of Lucia’s world.

All the stories in On The Way feature elements of lies and secrecy. These stories are complex and full-bodied, heady with sensual details and rich with character. Vargas’ writing style is on lockdown, and her exceptional prose will leave readers of all ages thoroughly satisfied. On The Way will imprint itself in your mind, and leave you wanting more. May this be one of many books Cyn Vargas writes.

 5/5 stars

 On The Way


 Cyn Vargas

 Curbside Splendor Publishing

 April 21st, 2015 (1st Edition)

 188 pages