Friday, November 6, 2020

The Big Box Door Prize by M. O. Walsh



Reviewed by Laura

            Douglas Hubbard and his wife, Cherilyn, are well-loved by the people of Deerfield, Louisiana. Douglas teaches history at the local high school and Cherilyn, though unable to have children, is always busy with crafts and odd jobs around town. Their relationship is the envy of many, but most especially Deuce Newman, a former high school football star turned town photographer, who has pined for Cherilyn since their high school days. With the town's bicentennial coming up, Deuce is in great demand taking pictures of all the townspeople to use in a mosaic to be displayed for the occasion. Needless to say, avoiding him will be an impossible task for the Hubbards.

            Everything goes along pretty smoothly in this small town until a new machine appears at the local grocery store. For $2.00 and a Q-tip swap of your DNA, the DNAMIX will tell you your greatest potential and calling. The machine turns out to be wildly popular as residents stand in line to discover what their talent really is and what they should do for the rest of their lives. Sounds like a fun way to spend the afternoon and have a chuckle about “what might have been”, but unfortunately, most of the townspeople take the printouts as gospel. Before long, all around town, you might see someone doing magic tricks in their front yard, spending their retirement money on expensive bicycles and hitting the road, or a myriad of other activities. Even the mayor appears to be transitioning into a cowboy! Douglas has avoided the craziness thus far, but then Cherilyn discovers she was meant for royalty and things go downhill from there.

            While the book’s main characters are Douglas and Cherilyn, the book also follows some of the town’s other residents, including a darker subplot relating to some of Douglas’ colleagues and students from the high school. Though the book is definitely not a mystery in the normal sense of the word, there were several twists and turns that I certainly never saw coming. This is a wonderfully told story of intertwining relationships and the curves life throws at us along the way. It wasn’t the type of book that I couldn’t put down, but rather more like a comfortable robe that I wanted to ease into at the end of the day. Comforting and heartwarming…just the thing I need right now.  I highly recommend it.

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