Thursday, April 8, 2010

Return Policy, by Michael Snyder

This book weaves together the stories of three protagonists- Willy, an writer and college professor dealing with several emotional crises in his life; Ozena, a customer service representative for a company called Javatek, struggling with being a single mother to a son with disabilities as a result of a childhood accident; and Shaq, a man living in a homeless shelter who huge black holes in his memory, and sometimes mistakenly fills them in. As the book progresses, the stories of these three people, and the people in their lives, are synthesized into one beautiful and touching story.

Michael Snyder does an amazing job of bringing these stories together to form a literary French braid of sorts, constantly adding outside information to one of the three strands, all the while strengthening the overall work of art. I was worried when I first began reading that I would not be able to keep all the characters straight, but the flow was so natural, the reader does not really notice the change in first person narrative voice between the three main characters. It was almost as if having a movie play in my mind, a sign to me of a well written book.

There were times this book literally made me laugh aloud, and there were times it brought tears to my eyes. Some of the concepts mentioned in the book include loss of love or never finding love, and fear of death versus fear of really living. I would say love, in all its various forms, is the central theme of the book. Sometimes the way it is approached is poignant, sometimes it is humorous, but always, it is relatable.

I love the fact that that Michael waited until the very end of the book to allow some very surprising resolutions to occur. It is rare that I get caught off guard with a book, but this one certainly did do just that, and I was very pleased. I like the fact that the characters in the story are flawed, and still try to make the best of who they are and what they have to offer.

Because this book has characters that are so different from each other, it will appeal to a wide reading audience. I can see both male and female readers liking the book, and it could be a great book for a married couples’ book club. I found this book to be very entertaining, without requiring too much of an investment of either time or emotion. All in all, a solid heartwarming read.

This book was provided for review free of charge courtesy of the Christian Review of Books.