Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Book 8 of 52 -- Laura Pedersen's The Big Shuffle

From the very first page I fell in love with this wonderful novel since it's chock full of humor, warmth, and family drama, with a subtle message about caring and the bonds of friendship carefully woven into the struggles of living and dying.

The main character, a young woman suddenly called home from college to care for her family in an emergency, is well-drawn and realistic, but she's not always the main event, thus widening the appeal of the novel to all ages.

Hallie often serves as ballast for the more memorable characters to swirl around her, including a local antiques dealer, his socially aware mother, their minister, the colorful sailor man Uncle Lenny, and a cadre of town poker players.

The twists and turns are familiar, but that's what makes the action so interesting and appealing, especially when everyone has a different view on how to resolve problems and attempt to move forward.

The author does a terrific job of interweaving these additional personalities along with their relationships so the main plotlines never become boring.

THE BIG SHUFFLE is never boring, even when the narrator is vacuuming Cheerios out of the rug or contemplating the provenance of candy corn at Halloween time.

Pedersen's standup comedy background sneaks in at all the right moments, and yet she also gets the heartbreak and confusion following the death of a loved one pitch perfect.

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