Lately, I’ve been drawn to books that not only tell a story, but explore what it means to be human. I love books that demonstrate human nature in an interesting situation. It’s something I wasn’t expecting from Jessica Chiarella’s debut novel, And Again, but I was pleasantly surprised.
And Again follows four terminally ill patients who get a second chance. Connie, a former actress with a severe case of HIV; Hannah, a young artist who’s promising career is cut short by cancer; David, a staunchly conservative congressman with a brain tumor; and Linda, who’s accident left her able to communicate only through blinking for the past eight years are all selected for the SUBlife pilot program. Their memories are transferred into new bodies, clones of their former selves, lacking all the imperfections of their former lives. But their fresh start is anything but perfect. Hanna discovers her new body lacks the muscle memory for holding a paintbrush. David finds that he can’t escape his old habits. Connie, now more beautiful than ever, is disenchanted with an industry that prizes physical beauty over all else. And Linda has to learn to be a mother to the kids she hasn’t been able to speak to or hold for eight years. Each of them has to face the question of how much of their former selves existed not in their minds, but in their bodies.
I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started this book. But I ended up loving it! The writing is beautiful, the stories are poignant and real, and I was completely attached to all of the characters within the first few pages. I loved that the characters weren’t perfect and the story was unexpected, but entirely real.
I loved this book, and would definitely recommend it, especially for fans of Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven. Chiarella is definitely an author to watch for.
If you’re interested, you can pick up a copy of And Again here.
This book was provided to me by the publisher and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.