Like most of civilization, I make resolutions on the new year. Like most of civilization, I forget all about them by Groundhog Day. I have two resolutions this year that I plan to keep up at least until January 31st:
- Say “yes” to my kids more.
- Read a book for 30 minutes every night from 10:30 to 11:00 regardless of any work I have to do. If I have work to do, then it better be done by 10:30 or it’s not happening. (My typical night involves me working/Facebooking/Netflix binging/combination of these until 2 am, and getting nothing done.)
Three days in and I’m doing pretty well with both of these. I used to like reading. I remember reading lots and lots when I was younger. I remember reading all the Harry Potters in about a week (a book a day). I even read, to my everlasting shame, all the Twilight books in about 2 days (with the exception of the fourth one, which took a while since I only got through it by promising myself a new pair of heels I had been eyeing, only after I had read every agonizingly painful page). What can I say? For what I was going through at the time, it was a good story and escape. I’m not proud.
So I haven’t read a complete book cover to cover in a while. But on New Years Eve, I sat in bed at 10:30 and started this book, Maybe in Another Life, which Marci recommended to me. And then the next day, I went into work and read half of it, and then this morning, I opened it back up, left the girls and Steve to their own devices, and polished it off.
I don’t dig happy endings. I like books to leave me with some kind of conflicted feeling. It leaves me feeling motivated to read another book to fill the void. So the main thing that bugged me about this was that it ended so happy with no loose ends. No conflict. No screaming “WHAT THE HECK YOU CAN’T JUST END IT THERE!” after checking to make sure the thing wasn’t missing a page at the end.
But it was still good. The writing wasn’t anything special. I felt most like, “Okay, I could have written this.” It felt pretty whatever. But it was an interesting concept, the concept of multiverses (which they didn’t mention until the last couple pages). I liked the alternating chapters and that the format was actually pretty easy to follow, even though there were essentially two stories going on.
In my writing courses in college, I remember my fiction professor, who was crazier than a can of silly string, say that the worst thing an author can do is create a protagonist that readers don’t like or care about. So it pains me to say that the protagonist of the story, Hannah, made me an insane person. From the get-go, her character development involved basically a laundry list of reasons why she’s the worst.
Mistress. Chronically late. Freeloader. The high bun. A cinnamon roll fixation. (We get it. She likes cinnamon rolls. Cinnamon rolls played too big a role in this book.) Why do we want good things to happen to her again? I started liking her more when she adopted the dog, but unfortunately, the book was 75% done at that point.
But don’t get me wrong. I did like it. I liked it enough to finish it in 2.5 days. I liked the format and the concept, and I liked trying to figure out how her two parallel universes were similar. And I liked reading something just a little fluffy. It would make a cute movie. But that’s how it would be described. Cute. It wouldn’t get an Oscar, but it would be a fun flick for a girls’ night out, or to see by yourself at the dollar theater.
So would I recommend it? For a quick read, yes. A book club discussion? No. Something to read on the beach or on the plane? Sure. But you probably won’t gain any insight into human behavior from reading it. It’s a love story told from narrators in parallel universes, and that’s pretty interesting, so go ahead and read it. You’ll probably like it. I mostly did.