But know this right up front: SMALL WORLD has lots of characters, so many that you may have a hard time remembering who’s who. This book should include a list of characters with who each is. Because it doesn’t, I suggest, if you own your copy, keep a highlight marker handy and highlight each name when it first appears so it’s easy to flip back and find that name if you forget it by the time it next shows up. My friend keeps notes on borrowed books.
You will probably need one of these tricks to help your memory because this book has several stories going on:
One story is about twins who came to New York from Ireland in the 1850s and were each adopted out to different families in different parts of the country, with another story about their present-day descendant, a train engineer about to retire.
There’s a story about a Chinese man in 1850s California and another about his present-day descendant (whose husband may have descended from Irish people who helped the Irish twins in New York).
Another story is about a black slave in the 1850s who came with his rich Kentucky owner to Illinois and escaped, and another story is about the former slave’s present-day descendants, a mother and her giant teenaged son who excels in basketball.
And, yes, there’s another story about an (American) Indian girl/woman in the 1850s who ran away from her adoptive parents, and, yes, another story is about her present-day descendant who is escaping her abusive boyfriend.
All the main characters from the present-day stories are on the same train. How did they all come to be there at the same time? What are their stories?
Throughout SMALL WORLD are occasional coincidences, such as the blue locket that young Finnegan, one of the Irish twins in the 1850s, kept his whole life to give to his twin Nora when he found her. Yet the present-day story about the Indian girl running from her boyfriend mentions that she now has that locket. Somehow, a character from one story came in contact with a character from an unrelated story. It’s a small world.
I won SMALL WORLD from the publisher.