Review by Deb Czajkowski
Zoe is single. She would go so far as to use the word alone ─so alone that, when she accidentally traps herself in her attic, she envisions someone finding her dead body days, or even weeks, from now. This realization forces her stop living in her, well, living room ─Zoe works from home, translating manuals─ and reach out to make friends. She’s also missing her mom, who died several years ago, and she’s needing some motherly TLC right now.
Pam, a recent widow, volunteers for an organization that counsels women on personal and professional goals to help them move forward in their lives. She balances that with a Pilates class several times each week. Pam, old enough to be Zoe’s mother, is thrilled when Zoe shows up unexpectedly at her Pilates class, looking to join the class and also looking to her for that mother-substitute TLC.
Jen is Zoe’s best friend, but things have been strained between them for a while now. Jen and her husband Kirk have an eighteen-month-old son, Jack. Since he was born, Jack has been Jen’s whole world, to the point that Jen is constantly frantic over every aspect of Jack’s life. But her greatest worry is that there is something seriously wrong with Jack ─he hasn’t spoken one single word yet!
Enter Steven ─initially to fix that faulty attic staircase. But now he is fast becoming the new man in Zoe’s life. He successfully runs the family business, he’s kind and thought. And he seems to be falling for Zoe. So where’s the problem here?
Zoe’s life has suddenly gotten complicated! Problems, complications: “tomayto, tomahto.” I like the word labyrinthine. Why? Well, Jen is Pam’s daughter as well as Zoe’s anxiety-ridden best friend, and Pam wants Zoe to join forces with her in staging an intervention for Jen. And Steven is (Wait for it!) Pam’s son ─and Jen’s brother. Did you see that coming? How do Pam and Jen feel about them dating? Oh, then there’s Miguel. Who’s Miguel, you ask? He’s Zoe’s widowed father ─and he’s now trying to work his substantial charms on Pam! Labyrinthine is a good word here, right?
Ah, but there’s also that other thing……...
That you will have to wait for! (i.e. Read the book! J)
In A Million Little Things, the cast of characters is relatively small. This allows author Susan Mallery to a.) develop each character’s personality, giving us glimpses into their day-to-day thoughts and activities, flaws and claws, challenges and opportunities; and b.) tangle the web of their lives and loves to intensive their dreams and the drama.
I liked that about Mallery’s novel: Getting to really know the characters made them seem more real to me and their problems more personal. It was like cheering for friends to search their souls and succeed in finding solutions to their dillemmas. As Mallery skillfully illustrates in A Million Little Things, life can go from mundane to messy in no time at all. And calming the chaos is usually neither quick nor easy.
Maybe your life is mundane right now, and messy ─someone else’s mess!─ sounds like a fun diversion. Or maybe messy is more like life as you know it. Either way, I recommend you pick up a copy of A Million Little Things. Best case scenario is your life looks carefree in comparison. Worst case? You see that complicated is common ─one might even argue that it’s normal. Relax today with A Million Little Things and relish a bit of uncomplicated in your life.
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About the author:
New York Times bestselling author Susan Mallery has entertained millions of readers with her witty and emotional stories about women. Publishers Weekly calls Susan’s prose “luscious and provocative,” and Booklist says “Novels don’t get much better than Mallery’s expert blend of emotional nuance, humor and superb storytelling.” Susan lives in Seattle with her husband and her tiny but intrepid toy poodle.
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