Salty air, low lying clouds and crooning of seagulls near the towering Astoria Column and the flowing Columbia River set the scene for this collection of linked short stories. Each of Humanity’s Grace narratives elucidates opportunities and consequences that connect the collection’s characters: strangers, lovers, family members and friends. Frank, Anne, Monica and Sarah all reappear from pages of Montgomery’s novel, Beyond the Ripples. New characters, an elderly mother and her son, a police office and spouse, a childhood friend, a counselor, a bystander appear, all uniquely connected to a murder in downtown Astoria, Oregon.
The characters in Humanity’s Grace are each impacted differently as they experience joys and sorrows, and beginnings and endings. As in life, they intertwine as they laugh, scream and cry, do good or create evil. The untimely death of a man creates a spectrum of consequences for others: these loved ones, acquaintances, and strangers. The ensuing murder accusation throws a trio of characters into darkness, as they reassess earlier beliefs, past decisions and actions. A police officer haunted by his past. A young woman awakening from a vivid dream of a friend from before. A mother who wonders what she did wrong. A son who aches for others to be kind. A daughter who questions her father’s past, while her mother remembers parts of the man she had forgotten. A stranger wonders about the significance of a message she was given.
In these stories, the author imparts the opportunity for the reader to meander through sorrow and sadness, joy and regret, all which remind us of the startling and collective beauty of life’s connections.