Mary A.

Review: The Baggage Handler

Released March 5, 2019; 240 pages

Author: David Rawlings

Overview from Barnes and Noble Website:

A mother of three hoping to survive the days at her perfect sister’s perfect house before her niece’s wedding.

A hothead businessman coming to the city for a showdown meeting to save his job.

And a young artist pursuing his father’s sports dream so he can keep his own alive.

When Gillian, David, and Michael each take the wrong suitcase from baggage claim, the airline directs them to retrieve their bags at a mysterious facility in a deserted part of the city. There they meet the enigmatic Baggage Handler, who shows them there is more in their baggage than what they have packed, and carrying it with them is slowing them down in ways they can’t imagine. And they must deal with it before they can leave.

Personal Review

For such a short book, the author can sure pack some substance into the limited pages. To start, the story begins with three people, all of whom could not be more different than each other. All flying on a cheap airline, all with black suitcases and red tags (note to self, if you learn one thing from this book, it is to listen to the commentary that you should buy brightly colored suitcases to easily picks yours out on the carousal). While waiting for their luggage, they are each approached by an overly eager baggage handler asking if they need help with their baggage. They all refuse, quickly grab what they thought was their bag, and rush off to where they thought they needed to be.

Once all three characters come to the realization they have grabbed the wrong suitcase, they are directed to remedy this by going to a baggage warehouse. Separately, they are each transported to a fun-house-esq waiting area with objects and entertainment specific to each character’s baggage such as a talk show with guests that happen to be discussing something similar to a character’s situation. The eccentric baggage handler brings each person their suitcase (or as the handler continually refers to it, “baggage”) that became heavier than what the characters remember. When they open the baggage, it contains the thing they have been holding on to and what may be holding them back (get it??? It’s their baggage). The handler offers advice of chasing your own dreams, forgive those who need forgiveness (including yourself) while answering yet not answering the questions the characters pose (as all eccentric baggage holders do).

Without going into too much detail how each character’s story unfolds, they each offer a different view of being confronted with their baggage. One in disbelief, one sighs almost relief at the chance to change, and the other in denial over their personal involvement in the baggage. Despite the entirety of the story taking place as three separate scenes, the use of the baggage handler integrated into each story allows for cohesiveness that is difficult to manage when spreading the story over different characters and backgrounds.

At points, the story line and metaphors can be a bit heavy handed (think old school Disney Channel movie or Hallmark), such as a boy whose father is pushing him to be an athlete when the boy wants to be an artist (with such classic realization as “this isn’t my dream, it’s your dream”). But, when presented in such a kooky way, you can’t help but remain curious as the story unfolds.

This book was an enjoyable read and something that may bring comfort to those who need to process their own baggage. I can only hope the next time there is a mix up with my luggage on United, an all-knowing baggage handler may appear to help me unload my baggage.

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