Parallel by Lauren Miller
My rating: 4.75 of 5 stars
Goodreads: Abby Barnes had a plan. Get into a great college, major in journalism, and land her dream job at a major newspaper. But on the eve of her 18th birthday, she's stuck on a Hollywood movie set instead, wishing she could rewind her life. But the next morning, she’s in a dorm room at Yale, with no memory of how she got there. A collision of parallel worlds has left Abby living a new reality every time her younger parallel self makes a new decision. Forced to live out the consequences of a path she didn't choose, Abby must let go on her plans for the future and learn to focus on the present, without losing sight of who she is, the boy who might just be her soul mate, and the destiny that’s finally in reach.
My thoughts: You will notice that I took .25 stars from 5 stars. That's for my own inability to completely conceptualize string theory, space time continuum, and anything having to do with the brilliance of Albert Einstein. That's right. My pride.
This is a similar concept as a book I recently read called Pivot Point. Also, a movie I saw from the Sundance Film Festival called Sliding Doors. Essentially, one decision or event alters the trajectory of a life. This would be an easy enough concept to write about. Safe, tried and true. Instead, the author includes a theory basically based on String Theory. For every decision, parallel lives are lived out on different planes or possibly the past is changed based on the changes made and everybody's memory is rewritten. That's where my comprehension suffered. Because I don't get String Theory. Not that the book is written in a difficult form. It's pretty straight forward and I actually really liked the idea of introducing physicists or astronomy science with Dr. Mann and Wagner.
So Abby falls asleep the night before her 18th birthday and feels some kind of collision occur in her sleep. She wakes up and it's the day before her 17th birthday and her senior year is being rewritten because there was some sort of tremor that knocked out the power and she's late for school. This changed her elective class and the trajectory of her life. In her "real" time, which starts on her 18th birthday, everybody's history has been rewritten and they remember it in the rewritten form. Abby only remembers it one day at a time which is exactly one year and one day behind today.
So Abby senior year is significantly different than the one she lived a year ago. Every day is just a little bit different and more information is added. She is introduced to different people at different times in her parallel lives. Although the book is not touted as a religious book, and it isn't, there are Deity undertones that add a nice stabilizing effect to the story. There is some discussion of fate vs. chaos and chance. Does the collision of parallel lives and Abby's subsequent memories cause events to occur? How much free will does she have?
The characters are well written and multi-layered. The first chapter sets up Abby's whirlwind senior year and the events leading to her current circumstances. It's a nice life and the reader would be drawn to that reality. The next chapters leap frog between the new reality caused by the collision that reset events a year ago and the events from a year ago. Unlike other books I've read with alternate realities, this one paints both with pros and cons. The ending is a little abrupt for my taste but succinctly answers the questions of free will, fate and parallels.
Altogether, a very enjoyable read.
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