The book is not a parenting book. Derek Hayes has written a series of 16 short stories about people who might be considered a bit ‘off.’ They are stories about people who don’t quite fit in to what is considered the social norm. Or do they?
The more you read each story, each little peek into these persons lives, the more you realize that this book is about being human. Every person in this book is a human being and could be your neighbour, coworker, boss, teacher….you. Reading this book made me feel more and more that there is no such thing being different. We are all different. We are all Maladjusted. There is no perfect human. There is no such thing as ‘normal.’ What makes us different is how we all survive and cope with what the cards have laid out for us.
Derek is an amazing writer. Each story flows into the other, you cannot just read one at a time. You transition from one vignette to another seamlessly, no matter how different the protagonist. The character behind each story is dealing with their own baggage that twists how they handle life. Some are painfully shy. Some are shut ins. Some feel unattractive. Some just feel. Some just are. Which is why this book isn’t full of stories about one person who is maladjusted. Every character we meet and our protagonists meet have their own issues and baggage that they are dealing with.
Take the teacher we meet in ‘A Good Decision.’ She is a tad awkward and has issues with relationships and speaking her mind. She is a passive viewer of those around here. She observes and judges those she interacts with with a disconnect. She holds herself back, protects herself while feeling compassion for the pains she observes.
In fact that may be what all the characters have in common. They are dispassionate about their own lives and their roles in them. But what makes me think, when reading their stories and is that everyone else in their stories probably feels the same way, and they just don’t know how to communicate that loneliness with each other..with all the maladjusted.