Author: Aimee Alexander
At 17 pages, Checkout Girl is more of a short story than a book, but as long as GoodReads classifies it as a book, a book it is for me as well. After all, I signed up on their site to read 50 books in 2015, and now that we are in Week One of December, I am beginning to feel more than a little desperate.
I found the cover page of the book, with its soft twinkling lights, and the hint of a Christmas tree rather appealing.
The story is about an 83-year-old woman who dies suddenly, just outside a mall where she has gone shopping. She expects to have her whole life flash before her eyes, as is commonly believed, and is surprised to find herself given the opportunity to make a difference in the life of a single mother, the checkout girl who had shown her a kindness just moments before her death. The checkout girl who has now been fired from her job for her pains.
A snippet of a review on the cover promised me that the book would tug at my heartstrings.
Maybe my heartstrings are too taut.
All the same, I found the book cute. Perhaps if it had been fleshed out a little bit more. Maybe if I had known a little more about the life of the sweet, old woman who died just as the story began, or even about Debbie, the checkout girl, it might have made a difference.
At one time, the author compared Debbie to another girl who is a part-timer and who enjoys this job. The author writes, She and Debbie are the same age: nineteen. Yet they live as though a generation apart. Having a child can make the world a much more serious and grown-up place.
There was so much in that last line that could have benefited from elucidation. But the details didn't come.
Debbie's little daughter, Jessie, and her profanity spouting mother, Janice, could have been given more space to breathe so we could understand their presence in Debbie's life. On the other hand, the old woman, whose first person account this is, doesn't share much about her life either. We don't learn the details about why her son is in jail. We don't even know her name.
Eventually, the dead old woman does something nice for Debbie, and earns her wings. She is grateful for the opportunity to play an angel and help Debbie.
This story should have been thickened with some more detail and stretched to a mini-novella. The author has a pleasing style of writing, and I would certainly have liked to read more.