The characters in The Ways We Get By by Joe Dornich are doing their best, even if the things they’re doing aren’t necessarily good. Each one is struggling in their own way, many of them placed in interesting jobs like a professional cuddler working to care for his grandfather with dementia, a knock-off Aquaman struggling to connect with his father, an actor in a Bible-themed park, a man with a terminal illness manufacturing organs for fake dead bodies, and the list goes on.
These characters are far from perfect. They mess up, they have big egos, they abandon and hurt the people around them. But they’re utterly human with each of their flaws, and they all have heart. They seek companionship, aim to please their loved ones, and want to make friends and find love. The settings and situations they find themselves in aren’t quite ordinary, but they still feel real thanks to the raw humanness of the characters. Even characters one might normally deem unlikable still have a sympathetic light shown on them.
Dornich has created an enjoyable read that gives the reminder that plenty of us are out here trying our best as we do whatever we need to get by.
The Ways We Get By by Joe Dornich. Black Lawrence Press, January 2021.
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