I give this book 3 out of 5 stars. Character development is really good overall. The story sort of ebbs and flows. I tended to be very interested throughout sections and very bored through others. My husband asked me if I was reading a boring book. When I asked him why, he said, "Because you have fallen asleep to this book every night for a week." And that's the truth. :-)
The book is about small town American and a commentary on the American Dream and social classes. I can't say the book is totally without merit, but there are much better books out there. I definitely recommend Empire Falls over this one any day. Maybe Richard Russo will do better next time around.
I also finished The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson. This is a very fun and quick holiday read. I first read it in elementary school and liked it then. I remember my mom taking me to a children's theater production of the book and enjoying that. So I thought it would be fun to reread it. And I will be sharing it with my daughters when they get a little older as well.