In this charming and heartwarming retelling of Frank Capra’s classic It’s a Wonderful Life, Camille Pagán, best-selling author of This Won’t End Well and I’m Fine and Neither Are You, introduces us to Bailey, a dutiful yet sharp-witted 30-something who finds herself on the verge of a nervous breakdown as Christmas Eve approaches. As if it wasn’t enough that Bailey’s husband has just cheated on her, the family business she’s been running since her parents died, which employs most of her small town, is about to go under. But even as she’s questioning whether her life has any meaning, Bailey bumps into a handsome stranger who claims to know her—and through a series of strange events, sheds new light on what it means to make a difference in this messy, wonderful world.
Originally I DNF at 50% – This was like a depressing country song had an affair with the beginning of a Disney movie. I admit that I haven’t seen “It’s a Wonderful Life” in several decades… but I don’t remember it proportionally being this depressing. This is less than two hours and the *entire* first hour is:
1. Bailey’s parents died on Christmas Eve 20 years ago
2. The only company in town is closing down
3. Bailey & her husband (Chris) are infertile
4. Chris’s brother is a bum whose wife left him & the kids
4b. They live next door so Bailey gets to see daily how ignored/poor/unloved the kids are
5. Bailey walks in on her best friend & Chris having sex
Despite loving Amy McFadden as a narrator – I couldn’t finish.
At the urging of another reviewer that the second half was more cheerful… I finished it. Keep in mind this entire book spans about 24 hours in present day.
Another 25% was the “if you’d never been born” portion and detailing how everything would be even worse.
Then for last 10-15 minutes of the book, Bailey gets organized and decides to move forward. Don’t worry – two men are going to save her. Her soon to be ex will loan her the money to make payroll and the guy she’s just met 12 hours ago (yeah, they knew of each other in high school, but they haven’t seen each other in 20 years) is going to save the cannery and love her forever.
I really don’t relish bad reviews… but this was proportionally way too much negative to feel joy at the unrealistic “heartwarming” of the last 10 minutes.