Close your eyes and imagine the world as it was on a clear fall day two years ago. Faces uncovered, children laughing and playing and people in restaurants with family or friends, taxis, movie theaters with plenty of viewers and parks filled with children playing, teens with other friends playing ball and people just sitting and talking or reading. Open your eyes and what’s different? Fewer restaurants and many boarded up. Businesses without many customers and some no longer there. Movie theaters, theaters on Broadway, museums and other recreational places closed to the public. Faces covered with mask as the world we knew will most likely never come back as a deadly virus is here to stay.
The author created nine stories that are different, yet the theme or messages are the same. It deals with how different people of different ages deal with this pandemic and how they are grateful for the menial jobs they have, what they miss and how they hope to survive in the future. Odd friendships are made as we go to story one and meet Paul and Nat who meet on the rooftop of their building to be able to talk about their days, their hopes and more at a safe distance before the days get shorter and the nights longer and the cold sets in. Paul loves doing Zoom classes with people learning to read and speak English while Nat works construction. We get to know them as friends, but first Paul has a ham radio and loves to listen to the public station until this one day somehow the signal gets changed and he is able to talk to someone from Russia and they chat for a while and enjoy each other’s thoughts until the signal goes away. Will they ever connect again? What about learning more about being a real satellite like user? Will Paul go for the license?
Muemansk is where this man Alexi comes from and their conversation will remain with him for a long time but remembering the call sign CQ CQ and hoping some day to hear the humming and frequencies that will bring them together again. As we meet Gene Cartlon and Andy. Gene is a guard in a hotel and his job is to escort visitors and to monitor the outside of the building. His boss and other guard talk aboaut the world and then he walks out and meets his friend Arthur who has an odd request. Talking and then agreeing to go to his apartment he tells him a story about a neighbor who has the virus and is in the hospital and left him his dog. Why does Gene take him? Next we meet The City Boy who lives in the country and loves to use his board for daily runs. Meeting someone they talk for a while, and you get the feeling that John is restless but needs to work. UBER allows him to take on passengers, deliver food and packages and yet make his own schedule. You get the feeling that he is restless and this pandemic and made it hard for him because eh lost his favorite job at a restaurant that he sees is boarded up. Going back in time and remembering the past using the train during the day to revisit places he has missed will John remain where he is, or will he turn around and go in a different direction? My favorite story is the book’s title The Game Café. A place or an arcade where you can play board games of any kind: Scrabble, monopoly, chess and more. Laura gives her ten dollars and although she it tired from working her shifts at the hospital cleaning and mopping rooms, she decides to put her name on the board to play scrabble. Meet the young boy who is the other player as they talk but she does not admit her job but tells of her past working in a workshop dealing with stain glass. Telling him what she does or did in the past they get into a conversation and play several games. But, something happens when Laura sees a game the next time she is there called the Piano Game that someone she knew in the past might have created but one of the keys should have the man’s name on it but it does not. Laura and this young man named Ronald start the game and even though the snow is falling hard wait until you see what happens in a story titled THE GAME CAFÉ.
The next story is called Someday Soon, and we meet Anna and Lucy. Lucy is the young child at age four now adult that she took in when her own father did not want her. They are close and Anna works in an office, but her real passion is to create watercolors. Watch her rekindle of passion and hear the words that change it all at the end in the story titled SOMEDAY giving Anna and everyone hope.
The next story is a Woman and a Dog and we meet Jane who has a life changing thought. No longer wanting to be stuck in an office and hoping to go to New York and live there. Added in she has another wish to go to Woodstock and a friend that does not think it’s great idea. What does she do and why? Find out when you meet her and her precious dog Martin.
The next story is about Laura and Archo and what happens during the pandemic with so many things not available in supermarkets, bars and restaurants closed and his trip to the laundromat that is life changing. He was attack by some teens and in the hospital with some horrible injuries and the result is he wants to move away and go to live in the Bronx or Queens or the city. What is their final decision remains to be seen. Friendships come in all different ways and friends like Laura are priceless. The final two stories are sad and yet hopeful and life changing as we meet Eden and learn how the pandemic is affecting her, meeting Mrs. Morrisey and talking about books and how they met, although Mrs. Morrisey does not realize that she is working in this store. Eden needs to work the money she gets from other sources is not enough to pay rent, food and more. Eden decides that she might need a change in her life. She even takes in two stray cats and yet she is still alone. When she decides to find the bookstore Mrs. Morrisey told her about, she decides that she needs to read more and then the surprising ending. This pandemic has changed lives for the negative and positive you decide which relates to Eden. The final story is heartwarming titled Pain Management. Anyone that want so avoid surgery often goes to a pain management doctor or orthopedist for pain meds or steroid shots or epidurals to relieve the pain. The final story shows us what happens when two brothers who have been apart for so long and one decides even though he’s in pain to come and honor their mom’s death and visit the cemetery. Connell asks and even though Terry is in pain he decides to come. What happens might heal the past, strengthen the future and bond two brothers as one needs help, the other wants to be there for him and the ending will make you smile.
Nine stories about the pandemic and how nine different people deal with it in their own way. This virus you might think is gone or not dangerous, wear your mask, be careful in public places and know that only you can protect you as the characters in this book will teach you the reader important lessons about staying safe, dealing with this time in our lives and the author created amazing heartfelt, heartwarming stories that will stay with me for a long time.
Fran Lewis: Just reviews
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