‘Get in Trouble’ by Kelly Link – Far Beyond the Typical

‘Get in Trouble’ stories by Kelly Link   (2015)   – 333 pages


7485bc71999564284c24dbe3a916719cThe stories in ‘Get in Trouble’ are exceedingly strange with ghost animatron boyfriends, demon lovers, super-heroes and sidekicks, pocket universes, and mermaids.  What saves the stories from drowning in strangeness is Kelly Link’s brilliant use of dialogue.  No matter how far-fetched the story is, the down-to-earth conversations between her characters give the readers something real, substantial, and emotional to hold on to.  The people relate to each other human-to-human no matter how strange the story is, and we readers follow the story line due to these interactions.

Here are Fran and Ophelia discussing those mysterious creatures, ‘the summer people’:

“Have you seen them?” Ophelia said.

“Now and then,” Fran said.  “Not so often. Not since I was much younger.  They’re shy.”

Ophelia was practically bouncing on her chair.  “You get to look after them?  That’s the best thing ever!  Have they always been here?”

Fran hesitated.  “I don’t know where they come from.  Sometimes they’re…somewhere else.  Ma said she felt sorry for them.  She thought maybe they couldn’t go home, that they’d been sent off, like the Cherokee, I guess.   They live a lot longer, maybe, forever.  I don’t know.  I expect time works different where they come from.  Sometimes they’re gone for years.  But they always come back.  They’re summer people.  That’s just the way it is with summer people.” 

“Like how we used to come and go,” Ophelia said.  “That’s how you used to think of me.  Like that. Now I live here.” 

The talk between Fran and Ophelia sets up this spooky story “The Summer People”. All the stories contain plenty of dialogue which is a good thing.

Each of the stories is a mixture of the eerie and the everyday.  “Secret Identity” is narrated by a 15-year-old girl who has run away from Iowa, to a hotel in Manhattan, where she is to hook up with a man she met online. At the hotel there are two conventions, one of dentists and one of super-heroes.  How to tell the dentists from the super-heroes is a running joke.

All of the stories in ‘Get in Trouble’ worked for me except one, “Valley of the Girls’.  I read that story twice and it still made no sense to me beyond that it related somehow to ancient Egypt.

The collection contains a great variety of locales from Hollywood to an abandoned Wizard of Oz theme park to deep space.  The emotional situations of the stories are just as varied.

The strong attraction of ‘Get in Trouble’ is that it overwhelms the predictable sameness of so much current realistic fiction by offering a diverse multitude of supernatural settings, extreme weird situations, and offbeat people.


Grade:   B+


4 responses to this post.

  1. I loved this one, Tony, and especially liked “Summer People” and the one about the boyfriends. I never got around to writing about it somehow, except for a mention, and it really deserved this long review.


    • Hi Kat,
      I am amazed that you read ‘Get in Trouble’, liked it, but still didn’t write about it. I must write about every book I complete; otherwise I wouldn’t have enough articles for the site.


      • I have good intentions, but I am always behind. I read GIT last winter, so will never get around to it now. It’s one of those literary-SF crossovers that gets shelved in the literary section instead of SF/fantasy, so it is very good for her! I very much enjoyed your review.


        • Hi Kat,
          That is a good phrase for ‘Get in Trouble, a ‘literary-SF crossover’.
          I liked the story of Kelly Link also, how she got tired of being rejected so she and her husband started their own publishing company.


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