I have read most of Lloyd A. Meeker’s work and he has yet to disappoint. His latest release, Stone and Shell, is no departure. A short story that packs a sweet emotional punch, Stone and Shell tells the story of a young boy, Howie, who has decided to set up a Solstice altar and make a wish. His aunt helps him by explaining the elements needed and exactly how the wish will work—that it is the intention behind the wish that carries the power and that one must focus on that and not always expect immediate results.
You see, Howie’s dad, David, has recently lost his husband—the two men had grown apart and it has been quite a while since David has even tried dating. Howie wants nothing more than for his dad to be happy again—and that means finding someone to love. While the story may seem rather simple, it is the way in which Meeker develops Howie’s understanding of what such a relationship would mean to his Dad and the reasoning behind the idea of adults taking things slowly that fills this story with both charm and whimsy. There is such a unique blend of the mystical and the empathetic in this little gem, it lends richness to what might have been just a cute holiday time story.
The story is told from eight year-old Howie’s perspective and it is much more sophisticated than you might think. This is no self absorbed or spoiled child, but a genuine old soul who wants nothing more than to see his father smile once more. To that end, he worries that he is not doing the altar quite right and once again, the author steps in and writes a side character, Howie’s aunt, to wisely guide the little man along and continually remind him that what he wants for his Dad may still be far off in the future—even though Howie is certain he has found the right man for David.
The magic of this author’s writing is that he gives us immensely likeable and real characters who struggle to get it right. They are three dimensional and not too “cute,” but rather carry an inner spark that draws the reader to them. Stone and Shell by Lloyd A. Meeker is a rich and warm-hearted story that is absolutely perfect for holiday reading.