Michael Snyder’s Return Policy (Zondervan) follows the stories of three people who’d never typically connect with one another, much less change each other’s lives: Wally, a burned-out, grieving novelist; Ozena, a single mom of a special needs child and customer service rep; and Shaq, a homeless man with a serious case of post-traumatic stress disorder. An unseen Hand much more powerful than the pain these ordinary people carry brings the three lives together in order to craft healing from each one’s loss.
Snyder allows each character to tell his or her story by writing each one’s narrative in the first person. He does an admirable job giving each one a distinct voice, though many readers may find it challenging to keep changing gears at the start of each short chapter. I found myself reviewing (“What did Ozena say about this the last time she had a chapter in this story?”) in order to make sense of what I was reading. There are moments where the book feels like a point-of-view exercise in a creative writing workshop, particularly in the first half of the novel, but the surprising beauty of the story overcomes those moments with something more lingering: a portrait of the restoration that is possible after tragedy shatters a life.