If you ever find a copy of this book in the free pile in your apartment building, please, keep on walking. (Ok, it's Big Stone Gap by Adriana Trigiani. I hope she doesn't google herself. If you do, Ms. Trigiani, it's nothing personal - I just didn't like your book.)
Sample problems: characters appear to read each other's minds and possess knowledge they can't logically have; it's set in the 70s, apparently only so that Elizabeth Taylor can pass through town; and the narrator, who I think I'm supposed to care about, does completely inexplicable things all the time.
And it's written in present tense. There are conventions for novels, people. If you're going to stray from past tense and first or third person, you had better have a DARN good reason. Part of the problem is simply breaking the convention - it distracts the reader. But, worse, it severely limits what the narrator can do. She can't look back and reflect on events, she can't foreshadow, she can only tell you what is happening now. And you know what? That's boring.
Worst of all, I can't stop reading the damn thing, because I'm at least 2% committed to the story lines and I find it really hard to give up on fiction. Argh. At least I'm almost there - 50 pages left.
I feel kind of bad putting it back on the free pile, but I'd feel worse recycling it, so there you go.