It's not exactly 'War and Peace' but it was a nice change of pace book that was mostly skimmable. As Ian the goldfish plunges to his almost certain death (really, a goldfish is going to survive a multi-floor fall?), we see the lives of some of the residents in the apartment building Ian passes as he falls.
There's the graduate student who realizes he loves his girlfriend but is cheating on her with two other women. The big burly construction worker who has been trying to admit something to himself. The building's super, who feels unappreciated and is stuck trying to fix the elevator. The pregnant woman who is due any day now and really wants some ice cream sandwiches. An agoraphobic woman who is forced out of her shell to help two people after she loses her phone sex call job. A home-schooled boy who frequently loses consciousness and thinks he travels through time.
While I normally can't stand multi-view books, the author made it work here because it was clear early on that Ian was our narrator (in a way) and that it was just a glimpse of these lives. Sure, these people may possibly know each other by sight, maybe a few by name. But it's a story is really a few threads and no artificial ties between them.
Overall it was an enjoyable read. It seemed like it could have been a lot shorter, especially as the author tends to talk about the pasts of these characters and what is happening in the present moment at the end of the chapter. Some of these backstories were more interesting: Garth the construction worker, Herman the home-schooled boy who lives with his grandpa, agoraphobic Claire, etc. Others, like grad student Connor and his mistress Faye were not so interesting. Personally I didn't think Faye needed to be characterized as a villain but that's a minor aside.
The book also wraps up predictably with a "happy" ending (not totally I'd say) for most (although it could arguably be seen as open-ended as well) that was a bit odd in places. I thought the author tried a little *too* hard to make it so for certain characters just so to keep everyone in the same building.
I'd argue the book was really a 2.5 star book in terms of the story's execution, but the story itself was charming. I couldn't help but think of Penelope Lively's 'How It All Began' as a matter of trying a bunch of people together in a sort of "butterfly effect." Lively's book did it better (I thought) but this was still a pleasant read overall.
Waited for my library to get it but I found it as a bargain book. That sounds about right but I'd recommend the library if you can.