I think about how Simone offered me the choice to stay or go—and how it so easily could have gone the other way. For a moment, I wonder what life would look like had I gone down the other path.
I’m a sucker for “Sliding Doors”-style stories. Even though much of the time, they don’t work for me, the concept of one decision or moment being the tipping point for a series of divergent events intrigues me. I guess, philosophically-speaking, I believe there’s something to that notion.
Because of that, I was excited to learn that Suzanne Young—who’s novel The Program was a real surprise for me this summer—co-wrote a novel with Cat Patrick, Just Like Fate, examining this very concept.
The novel introduces Caroline, a teenager who’s beloved grandmother, with whom she lives, is hospitalized with a stroke. She’s been at her bedside, panicky when she discovers that Gram won’t recover. All she can think of is escape, and her best friend provides just the chance by inviting her out to a party. At this point, the story diverges into two paths: “Stay” and “Go.”
I don't review all the books I read--that seems like a daunting, and kind of stressful task, to be frank. However, I wanted to spotlight a few books that I've read recently which I think are worth discussing and recommending, albeit with more brevity than in my usual reviews.
Because it is My Blood by Gabrielle Zevin
Because it is My Blood is the second in Gabrielle Zevin's unusual dystopian mafia series, the first of which is All These Things I've Done. The narrative style of this series is one that will either work for people or not--the memoir-like reflective style is definitely different and I really love it. This second novel in the series sends Anya to Mexico, and this shift from New York makes for a a quieter, slower installment in contrast with the first novel in the series (which I reviewed here and where I detailed the premise of the series). I also really enjoyed the new characters introduced in this installment, especially Anya's new friend Theo, who brings some interesting perspective to her life.
Note: You’ll be amused that this started out as part of a group of mini-reviews. Whoops.
While I wasn't enamored with Katie McGarry’s Pushing the Limits as seemingly everyone else was, the character who intrigued me the most in that novel was Beth. Beth’s surly personality piqued my interest as a side character in that book, and her unusual dynamic with Isaac, another secondary character in that novel, made me curious about her story.
So, despite that Pushing the Limits wasn’t a hit for me, when I learned that Beth would be one of the two points of view in the companion novel, Dare You To, I was tentatively excited.
Unfortunately, I am starting to suspect that with McGarry's novels, it comes down to the fact that these simply aren't the kind of stories I enjoy. They are very dramatic. The characters consistently make poor choices that don't make a lot of sense, which nearly always escalates the drama. There are big mistakes and equally big gestures. All of these elements are trends in contemporary, romance-focused fiction at the moment, encompassing young adult, adult and the enigmatic “new adult” categories.
When it comes down to it, I prefer quieter, more introspective reading.
Not dry, mind you, but I often find the little missteps and subtle, internal conflicts more compelling than grievous misunderstandings.