this is a fun, slipstreamy ‘what-if’ novel that gently floats the possibility of parallel realities as four characters living in a small oregon town begin to experience visions — seeing alternate versions of themselves living completely different lives, having made different choices at their crossroads of love or career; lives with different partners, ‘realities’ where their dearly departed are still alive and well, or… most alarmingly, seeing a doppelgänger whose appearance suggests a catastrophe on a much larger scale than the personal.
what is causing these visions, presaged by a metallic taste, a tightening of the air, a tremor in the ground? is it the awakening of Broken Mountain, the town’s long-dormant volcano? is it the theoretical multiverse making itself known? is it a coincidence that those affected include a scientist studying the effects of geothermal activity on animal behavior? or an academic whose area of study, before pregnancy paused her PhD, was metaphysics, specifically these very hypothetical alternate worlds? is it a coincidence that the four characters driving this story are not only neighbors, but also connected through circumstance in unexpectedly intimate ways? of course it’s not, and this tricksy little novel has so very many delicious surprises in store.
this goes down smooooooooth like cream soda. i’d only intended to dip into it, see what it was all about, but i got sucked in immediately and between the clean prose, the ping-ponging POVs and the addictive ‘what is going on??’ of the intrigue, i zoomed straight through without even realizing it.
it’s sci-fi lite – the speculative elements are used to explore contemporary/domestic themes concerning family and marriage – examinations of regret and dissatisfaction and complacency; an opportunity for characters to re-evaluate their life choices, with a tacit invitation to the reader to do the same. it’s not some new age-y puff piece pretending to be a novel, though – there’s meat in this sandwich and it satisfies that food-for-thought hunger.
book club appeal for days, but probably not for SF purists.