Hard to Say (chapbook)

Winner of the 2010 PANK Little Books Award, Hard to Say contains fifteen linked very short stories set in Dublin, Ireland about a family, and in particular a mother and daughter, in chaos and crisis. These stories are built around the broken, brutal, and beautiful. A powerful read.

The stories in Hard To Say, the work as a whole, will knock the breath right out of your lungs. Ethel Rohan’s writing is the real deal: unadorned, brave, compassionate and impossible not to read in one sitting. You’ll want to share this with the people you love best, the ones you trust to understand how painful life can be; and how exquisite, how necessary the expression of that fact, in the hands of a true artist, can also be.
— Robin Black, author of Life Drawing

Like the whispered secrets and silent prayers that play throughout, a rising and relentless tension builds. Rohan’s strong, precise prose shines across this collection of lost innocents like a comet made of cut glass.
— Amelia Gray, author of GUTSHOT

Ethel Rohan’s Hard To Say is simply magnificent. How else to describe these stories where characters, always on the verge of opening their hearts to the world, turn from the chance again and again? The urgency in these stories is so palpable, the tension between mother and daughter so well rendered, I found myself pacing as I read, unable to keep still. Standing on the opposite side of the room, an ache opening somewhere within, there was no need to ask how I’d gotten there. The answer was in my hands.
— Eugene Cross, author of Fires of Our Choosing

Ethel Rohan’s stories are small, but they feel vast and bold. And she leads you through them desperately, like a ghost through the ruins of the world.
— Ben Loory, author of Stories for Nighttime and Some For the Day

Hard to say, but Ethel Rohan does in tremendous words that hold up a mirror to the struggles of a family, a little girl, a young woman, a mother, a life. The stories in this collection read like crossing a river by way of rocks; unsteady, precarious, exhilarating and scary. But Ethel takes our hand and guides us, showing us a fragile beauty just under the surface.
— xTx, author of Today I Am a Book

Rohan’s ability to create emotive instances with simplistic language of a child’s perspective works wonderfully. Not only does the reader relate to the child, but one also is overwhelmed with empathy for her story.
— Book Review, NewPages