One day while sitting in a cab, Abby Willard spots a young woman on the sidewalk, only to realize moments later that it’s a younger version of herself.
From this opening, we delve into Abby becoming slightly obsessed with the younger her, and she begins to go to various places she went to when she was young, knowing she will find herself there. Surrounding the mystery of why she is seeing herself, and why there are gaps in her memory, are various other stories: her soul-sucking job for a big pharmacology company as a graphic designer, her husband’s work woes, her oldest son starting to run with a group of antifa protestors with his new friend Dmitri, who may or may not be what he seems, and her interaction with a detective after her son is arrested.
Amidst all of this, Abby continues to follow the younger her, eventually speaking to her, trying to talk her out of the mistakes Abby knows she will make. Interspersed with this are notes from therapy sessions, and a neurologist reviewing medical records and images – at the outset, we’re not sure what those records are or who they are about.
Along the way, we learn that both Abby and her husband are very talented artists, but both gave up their art when it wouldn’t pay the bills. The younger Abby then starts appearing to older Abby at random moments – proving the oddball nature of this goes both way – offering her own advice to the older Abby.
Events reach a crescendo in the last third of the book, with a fire, a death, and a question about space and time.
The writing is almost stream of consciousness, with sentence fragments scattered widely throughout the book, and this works well with the story, since we are watching Abby experience some very existential questions about herself and the world in which she now lives.
A solid three and a half stars out of five.
Thanks to NetGalley and Ecco for the advance copy.