Writing: 4.5/5 Characters: 4/5 Plot: 5/5
On Alice’s 40th birthday, she finds herself working in the admissions office of the private Upper West Side school she attended as a child, single, and facing the death of her only parent — an unconventional single dad who earned his keep with a best selling science fiction novel about time travel. But here is where things take a sharp 90 degree turn: after a drunken blow out of a birthday, she falls asleep in the shed outside her father’s house and wakes up … as her teenage self on her 16th birthday.
This was an impressive book in that we have all the character depth, insight, and good writing of a literary novel with the fantastic philosophical considerations made possible by the opportunity to potentially impact the future with some targeted behavior shifts on this one, important night. I loved her wry tone and engaging reflections, and I greatly enjoyed her descriptions of New York City from the perspective of a native. As a diehard SF fan, I was also pretty impressed with the breadth of time travel stories Alice ponders as she tries to come to terms with her situation. Some impressive thoughts about the nature of grief as well. I both enjoyed reading this book and feel like I gained some understanding from it as well.
Some fun quotes:
“In the real world, and in her own life, Alice had no power, but in the kingdom of Belvedere, she was a Sith Lord, or a Jedi, depending on whether one’s child got in or not.”
“Her pants were so long that they dragged on the ground, creating a seismograph of filth along the raw bottom edge.”
“It was like there were two of her, the teenage Alice and the grown-up Alice, sharing the same tiny patch of human real estate.”
“Everyone was gorgeous and gangly and slightly undercooked, like they’d been taken out of the oven a little bit too early, even kids that she’d never really looked at too closely, like Kenji Morris, who was taking the SAT class a whole year early, like he was Doogie Howser or something.”
“Her vision was clear, but it was coming from two different feeds. Alice was herself, only herself, but she was both herself then and herself now. She was forty and she was sixteen.”
“Like many transplants from small towns around the world, Matt seemed to look at New York City as a set to walk through, not thinking too much about what had come before.”
Thank you to Riverhead Books and NetGalley for providing an advance copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. The book was published on May 17th, 2022.