They say there are no small roles, only small actors, and I think the same can be said for characters in a novel. And while Samantha may not have a huge role, she’s one of the more memorable characters in The Reunion, as well as one of my personal favorites.
Samantha is the best friend of Gillian, the leading lady. We first meet Samantha in the flashback chapters, early in the novel. Set in the mid-1980s, Samantha is introduced as a twenty-something whose apartment is a few doors down from Gillian’s. While good friends, the two young women are remarkably different from one another. Gillian comes from a well-to-do family in Phoenix, and is studying art at Arizona State University. Samantha, on the other hand, comes from a working-class family in a small mining town in eastern Arizona. (I wasn’t able to include this detail in the novel, but it’s in my character notes.) And while Gillian may be a bit naive, Samantha is more worldly. She’d been studying to be a nurse until she ran out of money, so now she’s working as a waitress at a truck-stop diner where she makes good tips. Her goal is to return to school to complete her degree, once she gets her finances in order.
Along with her down-to-earth personality, Samantha is described as having above average looks. In fact, Ryan Knight, the antagonist in the flashback chapters, makes a rather crass remark about Samantha when he says, “With her looks, I’m sure she turns more than just tables.” But not to worry, Samantha will soon make him regret his choice of words.
Samantha returns, rather unexpectedly, later in the novel. By then the characters are middle-aged, and the story is set in the year 2010. She’s aged well, and she introduces her adult daughter, Cassie. Cassie will soon fall for Jeremy, the son of Ian, the leading man, and they’re also the two leading characters in The Journey.
Samantha was inspired by a neighbor I had when I was in college. Her apartment was a few doors down from mine, and while not a student, she worked at the dog track. She was a real kick in the pants, but she soon moved away, and I never heard from her again. Even after all these years, I still think of her from time to time, and I think she’d be pleased, and honored, with the Samantha character.