Abramowitz, Andy. A Beginner’s Guide to Free Fall. Lake Union Publishing, 2020. ISBN 978-1542014656 396 pp. $24.95
35-year-old roller coaster engineer Davis’s world comes to a screeching halt when, on the same day, he is put on administrative leave due to a malfunction on a log flume he designed, and his wife discovers his one-time infidelity with a woman on the team that helped install the flume. At the same time, his less self-assured sister Molly is having relationship and job woes of her own (she works at a fledgling newspaper and is dating a 23 year old). Told in not-quite-one-for-one alternating chapters, Molly and Davis struggle through their current conditions, overlaid with the absence of their mother who left when they were 8 and 10 (I think?).
The story makes the universal job/relationship struggle unique to it’s quirky characters. Molly hits a home run with a recurring column about motherless daughters; Davis enlists the help of his 6-year-old to design a magnetic flying carpet themed ride; Davis ends up as a lifeguard at his apartment complex’s pool and becomes an physics tutor for a young woman who flunked her last high school semester after getting expelled for pushing someone down the stairs, and, desperate to get into college, needs to take her finals and pass to get her diploma.
The pacing is excellent and I felt pulled through this roller coaster of a book, waiting to see how it would all play out. The writing is excellent; Davis is real on the page through his bantering dialogue. The game he and his sister play, trying to outdo one another with terrible business ideas, is highly entertaining. Supporting characters are strongly drawn. Great read to end my year!
I received a free advance pub ebook copy through Amazon Prime First Reads, which did not influence my assessment of this novel.