Title: Again Again
Author: E. Lockhart
Published: June 2020
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Readership: Young Adult
Genre: Contemporary/Speculative Fiction
I received a copy of Again Again from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
In this novel full of surprises from the New York Timesbestselling author of We Were Liars and Genuine Fraud, E. Lockhart ups the ante with an inventive and romantic story about human connection, forgiveness, self-discovery, and possibility.
After a near-fatal family catastrophe and an unexpected romantic upheaval, Adelaide Buchwald finds herself catapulted into a summer of wild possibility, during which she will fall in and out of love a thousand times – while finally confronting the secrets she keeps, her ideas about love, and the weird grandiosity of the human mind.
A raw, funny novel that will surprise you over and over, Again Again gives us an indelible heroine grappling with the terrible and wonderful problem of loving other people.
In Again Again E. Lockhart writes about the possibilities that exist – how one decision can shape your entire future, or how by changing that decision can your journey on a complete different path. It’s a fascinating concept to explore in a book.
Again Again is my first E. Lockhart book and upon reflection it may not have been the best place to start, but I did really enjoy what the author was trying to do with the book. We follow Adelaide Buchwald during one summer of possibilities, where in she falls in and out of love and must confront what she knows about her life and her family. Her parents are living separately, her younger brother has a drug addiction problem and is in and out of rehab and she’s left to live her life, which is hard, especially when her mind turns out the possible outcomes of every decision she makes.
What I appreciated most about Again Again is the real, raw honesty in the characters and the writing. Adelaide is not always the easiest character to like, but she’s a real person who’s been through a lot in her short life and still has to continue on (much like all of us during these challenging times). As a teenager, everything in Adelaide’s life is compounded by the fact that her younger brother has a drug problem and she doesn’t know how to talk about it with anyone – her parents tried to keep her separate to her brother, Toby’s, rehab stays and she’s reluctant to tell others about him for fear of judgement. She’s even afraid to talk to her brother, because she doesn’t know what to say to him anymore.
I admit, I found it hard, sometimes, to follow the multiple universe/multiple path storyline in the story (which was strange because I love science fiction/speculative fiction) but I will also admit that I really enjoyed the second half of the book a lot more than the first, and that may be because I was familiar enough with what Lockhart was doing with the story and the characters by then. (Also, there’s a very good chance that the current stress/anxiety levels being experience at the time of reading were also an influence, which reflective of me the reader and not the book as a whole.) I do like how the book was separated into ‘parts’ which helped to keep track of Adelaide’s lives and decisions, and I really enjoyed seeing how one small deviation from a previous decision could spiral her onto a completely different path or journey.
What I can say with absolute certainty is that I am very intrigued by E. Lockhart’s storytelling and I’ve already had some recommendations for other books she has written suggested to me to try and I’m definitely willing to read more from her. If you like your contemporary fiction with a speculative twist, I’d strongly recommend this one to everyone.