Dear Friends by Greg Stidham features a collection of ten short stories. These short stories present characters that are likeable and believable, and each of them dealing with a unique human predicament, each getting into an encounter that either builds friendship or leaves readers thinking. A middle-aged man with a neurologic disorder embarks on a journey to a small town and meets a young, eccentric woman with her own problems to handle; a young man returns home after military service and struggles to readjust to normal life; an old man awakens in a hospital after a seizure and meets a gentle Irish Priest; and many more. Readers will find out what happens when an ER physician meets a young woman about to get an abortion. Each engaging story offers a new setting, a new cast, and a new conundrum.
Greg Stidham writes about characters dealing with relatable issues and focuses on exploring their humanity, weaving realism into each tale, and effectively piquing the curiosity of readers. The author's creativity shines through these stories that are told from different perspectives. The writing is gorgeous and the plots are deliberately constructed to leave readers wondering about the fate of the characters. These stories are suspenseful, character-driven, and filled with humanity. Themes range from survival to racism, from solitude to meaningful encounters, from friendship to a sense of community. The stories are real and engaging and they feature characters that are finely drawn, a feat that is hard to achieve for short stories. Greg Stidham's Dear Friends stands out in the beauty of its prose, the strength of characterization, and its ability to leave readers frustrated at the end of each tale, wishing the ending could have been different. Each story felt, at least to me, like a cookie bite. The taste lingers on.