Summer Time Traveling

Hello scramblers

Me with my friend Jenny – Author of A Visit from the Goon Squad, Jennifer Egan.

In my past, there were a few summers in a row when I would pick a theme and read books that fell within that theme throughout June July and August.  Once it was all food books, another time – mysteries, and one summer, though you might not guess it, all the books I read were about enlightenment.

I haven’t engaged in theme-reading for a while. Not on purpose anyway. But it seems this summer I have fallen into a bit of a time travel motif.

Although, I think my friend, Jenny (author of one of the best books about how life and time interact), might say It’s ALL time travel.

Oona Out of Order by Margarita Montimore is about a young woman on her 19th birthday, a New Year’s Eve in 1983, who wakes up the next day on January 1, 2015. (Thirty-some years in the blink of an eye – God, I know the feeling.)  Oona finds herself in an expensive Brooklyn Brownstone she apparently owns, with a young handsome “handler” named Kenzie. Kenzie gives her tea and fills her in on just what she needs to know to start navigating her new life as her older self. Confused and sure she’ll wake up from a dream any moment, 52-year-old Oona spends a lot of 2015 learning what occurred in the world the last 32 years.  And when New Year’s Eve 2015 comes around, to her surprise, she jumps again, this time to a younger club-hopping Oona (with a note in her pocket from herself not to sleep with the guy she just slept with). Birthday after birthday she jumps from year to year, sometimes she’s old, sometimes she’s young. Each New Year she wakes up having to relearn her new situation. And yes, also new life lessons.  Her constants are her brownstone, Kenzie and her mother Madelein, and a letter she has written to herself before she jumped time. Madelein and Kenzie agree to never tell her too much to cause a butterfly effect – a cascade of events that will irrevocably change everything forever.  Each year, Kenzie makes her aware of her financial portfolio, which she improves by documenting stock market trends (think Apple), Kentucky Derby winners, and other bets and investments. (Not to tip off the IRS, she makes a few bad investments here and there.) Her wealth allows her to do things that her older self learns she will have wanted to do.  Aside from being fabulously rich, the gift of hindsight allows her to travel, learn things, and to invest in people and causes when no one else will. This was a good story. There are some flaws. What time travel story doesn’t have to have some “-you-just-have-to-play-along plot points? I enjoyed this as a light read and fun story.

Most recently I picked up Infinite by Brian Freeman. It is about Dylan Moran, who’s just survived a tragic accident when his car plunged into an icy river.  Dylan’s wife, the passenger in the car, did not survive.  When we meet him, he is traumatized, grieving, guilt-ridden at being the driver, and remorseful that he and his wife were not getting along at the time of her death. He is regretful in general about his temper, his jealousy, and his past as a violent alcoholic.  As if things aren’t rocky enough for Dylan, he also thinks he might be losing his mind when he sees a doppelganger of himself lurking in the background everywhere he goes.  Then a psychologist he’s never met in person, behaves toward him, with complete confidence, like he is her patient.  Whoa.  The psychologist is a famous personality known for her theories on multiple parallel universe theory. Upon further investigation, he learns that he – or some parallel Dylan – underwent hypnotherapy with her and may be disregarding the strict rule NOT to interfere and mess things up for the original Dylan in that universe.  Especially the rule – don’t become a serial killer suspect in that Dylan’s universe.  Well – that last part wasn’t a specific rule, but I inferred it as I was reading. I liked the concept of this story, but I got to this point and started to skim heavily and finally peeked at the end. So I kind of know what happened, but not really how.  Don’t worry. I won’t spoil it for you. I think it’s worth a flip-through if you want a time-travel/thriller mash up.

When Cathy wrote about the Midnight Library by Matt Haig, I was excited to read it. In fact, I already had it on my reading list.  It finally came my way after it sat in my library queue for a good long time as I watched my number on the waitlist slowly tick down.  Once I got it, I was doubly excited because the library saved for me a large-print version.  I don’t purposefully check out large print books, but when I come across them naturally, I check them out. They are so easy on the eyes plus the satisfaction of feeling like reading is a superpower. The pages turn just as fast as you start them. But my anticipation for Midnight Library was for naught.  There was just too much of a lesson. An obvious lesson at that. “You don’t realize what you have”. “Things aren’t always so greener on the other side of the fence.” I’d have been good with a little exercise in self exploration had there been an edge, a wink, a conspiratorial laugh.  But no.  I was bored and the book seemed kind of bossy. With a salute to Cathy’s ability to appreciate the good in all well-meant literature, I gave it up.  Probably a missed opportunity. In another timeline, there is a much better me living a much better life that stems directly from having finished The Midnight Library.

33% finish record here.  I suppose that’s on par for a lackadaisical book blogger. I’ve still got a high pile of books on my nightstand and I’m eager to see what’s in the pages.

It’s summertime and the readin’ is easy.

What’s on your summer list?

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