Who recommended this to me? How did this end up on my to-be-read list? Whoever you are, thanks, my friend! It was an absolutely fantastic interlude after the deep, dark despair inspired by the “Peculiar Children” series.
Honestly, this is the kind of story-telling I think people are talking about when they talk about Rainbow Rowell (note: I have only read one Rowell book, and it was totally fine). The prose is very sharp and full of whimsy. It’s clever, but lands on the right side of a-dork-able. The protagnist is flawed and the issues are serious, but the journey doesn’t take itself too seriously. This whole thing is a delight.
Is it science fiction? You tell me. A young woman has her heart broken and lets her life crumble around her, wallowing in self-pity, and convincing herself that this sad, self-destructive version of her life is fine and she’s happy. She loses her job and her apartment, moves into a tiny studio, eats microwave meals, lies (big whoppers and small fibs) to everyone she knows, and works at a miserable cubicle job that she’s too smart for. Then one day, she receives a formal invitation to meet with her Life, who is a person whose physical being and mood reflect the damage she is doing. After some serious avoidance (denial of the call, if you will), she finally gets on board with rebuilding her habits and making choices that not only ease Life’s misery but allow him to thrive. This is totally normal in this world; she once read about this kind of thing in a magazine at the dentist’s office.
She’s not delusional; other people read the article, too, and no one thinks she’s crazy when her Life shows up. And Life makes a difference; they make things better for each other. She learns to love her Life and nurture him.
It’s neither metaphor nor analogy; it’s a literal manifestation of the problem. And as knock-you-over-the-head as it all is, it’s such a delightful read that I couldn’t wait to get out of work most nights and get back at it. Happy ending: love story, ambition restored, friends back in the fold, family close again, selfish ex washed right out of her hair, and me, not annoyed in spite of the classic feminine goal-ish-ness of it all.