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Queen of the Sugarhouse, by Constance Studer

Constance Studer’s collection of short stories, Queen of the Sugarhouse, brings to life strongly drawn characters dealing with challenging circumstances. A registered nurse in ICU struggles to do the right thing after she makes a mistake. A homeless Desert Storm veteran grieves for his own loss of health, as well as for the loss of his father. Two women test their life-long friendship while one of them undergoes a facelift. A doctor’s life is forever changed during one twenty-four hour shift in the Emergency Room. A writer, committed to a psychiatric hospital because of an accident, uses her writing to heal. A novice nurse learns her job from taking care of a confused old man who has suffered a stroke. A waitress struggles with caring for her younger brother, who has muscular dystrophy. A daughter reluctantly comes home to nurse her difficult mother, who drove first her husband then her daughter to flea the Ohio farm where their livelihood was making maple sugar.

“Every person has a story,” Carl Jung observed. “Derangement happens when the story is denied. To heal, the patient needs to rediscover his story.” Constance Studer’s characters find healing in making pottery, taking photographs of objects not usually thought of as beautiful, in climbing mountains, in writing a novel. Healing is a process, a journey toward balance, connectedness, meaning and wholeness, rather than an outcome.