Holidays can simultaneously be a joyous and stressful time to spend with your loved ones, but when the holidays also play a large role in your job, and, therefore, your life, it can be difficult to remain enthusiastic about them. George Bailey Gets Saved in the End by Ken O’Neill follows one man’s tumultuous holiday season.
George Bailey, but not that one from It’s a Wonderful Life (although he certainly has been alerted to the irony), works in the family Christmas wholesaler business. After his back goes out on Thanksgiving as he takes the turkey out of the oven, other unfortunate events start taking place: his father dies, his wife is leaving him, and the family business is in trouble. In the month-span between Thanksgiving and Christmas, George’s life is undoubtedly changed, in both bad and good ways.
With lots of self-deprecating humor depicted through George’s decent into pessimism and misanthropy as shit hits the fan, I found myself chuckling at, and relating to, many of his actions. I appreciated the manner in which religion was presented in the story as didn’t get preachy, which allows readers to take from it what they want to; rather its inclusion helped to cultivate the characters rather than simply be what defines them. There was a great focus on the people in George’s life and each character is presented with plenty of nuance, which made it easier to understand where they were coming from and what impact they’d have on George’s life as they served as outlets to explore various social issues. There was a lot of coincidence (or fate) involved in some of the character meetings and event circumstances that goes beyond my suspension of disbelief, but it was well-crafted so far more easy to digest.
Overall, I’d give it a 4 out of 5 stars.