Young Adult/Parallel Lives
Available May 14th
Received from publisher via Edelweiss
THE STORY (from Goodreads)
Abby Barnes had a plan. The Plan. She'd go to Northwestern, major in journalism, and land a job at a national newspaper, all before she turned twenty-two. But one tiny choice—taking a drama class her senior year of high school—changed all that. Now, on the eve of her eighteenth birthday, Abby is stuck on a Hollywood movie set, miles from where she wants to be, wishing she could rewind her life. The next morning, she's in a dorm room at Yale, with no memory of how she got there. Overnight, it's as if her past has been rewritten.
With the help of Caitlin, her science-savvy BFF, Abby discovers that this new reality is the result of a cosmic collision of parallel universes that has Abby living an alternate version of her life. And not only that: Abby's life changes every time her parallel self makes a new choice. Meanwhile, her parallel is living out Abby's senior year of high school and falling for someone Abby's never even met.
As she struggles to navigate her ever-shifting existence, forced to live out the consequences of a path she didn't choose, Abby must let go of the Plan 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 within reach.
Parallel is a story it takes a little while to warm to, Abby’s character someone we instantly like and look forward to learning more about, but the complexity of a multiverse collision and the resulting ramifications create a barrier of confusion between her and us for the first several chapters. Despite the sci fi nature of parallel universes, the explanation Ms. Miller provides for Abby’s predicament is surprisingly believable–due in part to the level of detail and description provided–but it’s that same careful crafting of the science behind it all that has our eyes crossing at times the more we try to understand it. Luckily, Ms. Miller never so overwhelms us with facts or theories that she loses us entirely, and we’re easily drawn back into the lives of our two Abby’s once some of the information has time to settle.
Abby is a young woman who’s funny, down-to-earth, and understandably baffled but the sudden overnight upheaval of her entire world. Though she’s obviously panicked initially, she never lets it show, rather she seeks out best friend Caitlin to explain absolutely everything instead of simply moving forward and trying to figure things out herself. There’s something hugely appealing about a character who’s able to admit they can’t handle everything on their own and is humble enough to ask for assistance, and that humility combined with a sharp sense of humor that occasionally catches us off guard makes her a heroine we genuinely enjoy spending time with.
Abby's story unfolds in an extraordinarily fascinating way, the two versions of her living lives a full year apart in terms of their separate timelines, with the “younger” Abby acting as the dominant player in a game neither realized was even possible. Whatever decisions younger Abby makes directly affect older Abby, and the realization that even the smallest flap of younger Abby’s wings can create gale force winds for older Abby keeps us completely riveted throughout. Adding to the intrigue is the circular nature of both Abbys' circumstances, with pieces of their separate lives consistently repeating and making themselves known in each of the girls’ realities. Their connection then becomes more than a simple uninterrupted circle, transforming instead into a celtic knot that consists of a number of intersecting fragments that weave in and out of one another but ultimately lead back to the very beginning.
There are strong romances for both the younger and older versions of Abby, and Ms. Miller keeps us on our toes with a variety of twists and turns, as well as cause and effect situations, that constantly show us how all the pieces of the girls’ lives relate back to one another. Many a reader may take a stutter step or two (or ten) as they try to navigate the time discrepancy between younger and older Abby and exactly how that influences all the people around them, but ultimately this story makes us think, question, and constantly ask “what if”, ensuring it’s one we don’t easily forget the minute we pick the next book up.