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Publisher's Summary

The New York Times best-selling author of My Sunshine Away returns with another instant Southern classic: a gripping and heartfelt novel about a mysterious machine that upends a small Louisiana town, asking us all to wonder if who we truly are is who we truly could be.

What would you do if you knew your life's potential? That's the question facing the residents of Deerfield, Louisiana, when the DNAMIX machine appears in their local grocery store. It's nothing to look at, really - it resembles a plain photo booth. But its promise is amazing: With just a quick swab of your cheek and two dollars, the device claims to use the science of DNA to tell you your life's potential. With enough credibility to make the townspeople curious, soon the former teachers, nurses, and shopkeepers of Deerfield are abruptly changing course to pursue their destinies as magicians, cowboys, and athletes - including the novel's main characters, Douglas Hubbard and his wife, Cherilyn, who both believed they were perfectly happy until they realized they could dream for more....

Written with linguistic grace and a sense of wonder, The Big Door Prize sparkles with keen observations about what it might mean to stay true to oneself while honoring the bonds of marriage, friendship, and community, and how the glimmer of possibility can pull these bonds apart, bring them back together, and make second chances possible, even under the strangest of circumstances.

©2020 M. O. Walsh (P)2020 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

"Think of The Big Door Prize as a beautiful box full of all the things that compose our lives: love, fate, chance, jealousy, sadness, jokes, desire, and music. M.O. Walsh gives us all this and more, page after page, until we feel as if we know a little bit more about everything there is worth knowing. One of the most big-hearted books you’ll ever read, about so much, but, in the end, really about the secret of life: the specifics of caring." (Daniel Wallace, author of Extraordinary Adventures and Big Fish)

"The lives of a couple facing their mid-life crisis and a young man coming of age intersect in this humorous and hopeful novel. M.O. Walsh has never been afraid to go down into the darkest places of the human heart, but his truthfulness is balanced by a beautiful optimism, just as his sharp humor is leavened by his genuine affection for the layered, vital characters he creates. A wise, wry, twisty, and entertaining tale. I loved it." (Joshilyn Jackson, author of Never Have I Ever)

"The characters in The Big Door Prize are familiar yet curious - so much like my own neighbors that I began to weave myself into the story, considering other lives I might live if I were braver, pluckier. Walsh's novel is the ideal summer read, an immersive escape as well as a brilliant examination of free will vs. determinism." (Mary Miller, author of Biloxi and Always Happy Hour)

What listeners say about The Big Door Prize

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really good listen

loved the story.narrator was great ! I would recommend it. read it! please read it.

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Beautiful

This is an incredible story, beautifully written and performed. M.O. Walsh does it again! It’s the perfect read for the end of 2020.

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This could have been a funny book...

...but it was just the opposite. After what i thought was a good beginning, the whole thing began to get tiresome, including the reader. I am as big a fan of John Prine as he ever had, but I did not understand the cribbing of song titles or verses for chapter titles and even the title of the book, and at least in the case of one character assuming the name of a figure in a Prine song (Pamela Walker). Do you have to get permission to do this; obviously not. It was over-kill for an homage to the great singer/songwriter, IMO.

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don't waste your time or money

The Big Door Prize sounds better in the summary. I was excited but it's not worth it.