Home Remedies, by Angela Pneuman, offers eight stories that revolve around a unifying theme: the struggle of girls and young women raised in fundamentalist Christian families to resolve the tension between their upbringing and the values of contemporary society. Despite their brevity, many of the stories have an almost novelistic depth, a quality best illustrated by The Bell Ringer, the story of a troubled young woman's descent into madness as she mans a Salvation Army bucket in the depths of a Minnesota winter.
Not all of Pneuman's stories offer such unremitting bleakness. All Saints Day is the often hilarious tale of two sisters' efforts to enliven a Biblical costume party at the church that's auditioning their father for its pulpit. Others, such as The Beachcomber, portray the sexual awakening of young girls in sometimes startling, but sympathetic terms.
Pneuman's view of fundamentalist religion is frank but not unfair. It will be revealing to see her apply her talents to other subject matter as her career unfolds. Harvey Freedenberg writes from Pennsylvania.