Again Again and Multiverses

CW for drug abuse and talk of suicide.

Again Again is E. Lockhart's latest work. It's a return to a setting in previous works but is not a sequel.

I don't think I can spoil this book, because of its design.

Let's start with the unchanging facts:

  1. Adelaide is the protagonist.
  2. Summer is the main setting.
  3. Adelaide walks dogs.
  4. Her brother is a recovering prescription drug addict.
  5. She and her brother are in different physical locations.
  6. Her boyfriend “Mikey Double L” broke up with her and she's crushed by this.
  7. She's on academic probation for not turning in a final project and has been given a second chance to design a model for this set-building course.

Now this is where it varies.

Does Adelaide get with this hunky boy that also walks dogs? Maybe. It depends. But in many of those universes she also gets crushed by the fact he technically is seeing someone else and didn't tell her. Or she gets bit by a dog and he leashes the one he's walking before saving her.

Does she get back together with Mikey Double L? Maybe. It depends.

Does she get together with a third guy who actually sounds decent? Maybe, it depends.

Does her brother die? Maybe, it depends. There are universes where Adelaide took a break from a movie to go to the bathroom and finds him unconscious and calls 911. There are also universes where she didn't get up to pee and he died.

In the universes where he's alive, how is their relationship? Sometimes it's cold and strained, sometimes it's recovering, sometimes it's “I'm cancelling my date with this boy to hang out with you”.

How is the set model she's building? There's a variety of designs, based on the universe. I think in every iteration in this book she completes the set, but the grade always varies, from outright failure to accolades, half-based on the set she builds, and half-based on the baggage the teacher has.

In the afterwards, the author said this book was a response to some essays of her students, one of which was about the enforced monogamy in these books.

While I certainly like this book (it really got me thinking) just because in some universes she gets with a different dude or a third dude does not really challenge the idea of monogamy. It challenges the idea of destined lovers, sure, but the closest we get to challenging the idea of monogamy is the exclusivity conversation, which I understand to be typical.

What haunts me in this book is the fact when I think of multiverses, I think of two things: 1. How much I've escaped death. 2. How much I want to be alive.

A car nearly hitting my bike could have been a fatal crash in countless others. A time my older (unlicensed or newly licensed) brother had to drive the car because my dad was drunk certainly could have ended in death. And how many times I've struggled with suicidal ideation. One thing I've told my therapist is that if my mother had owned a gun while I was in high school or middle school, I would have killed myself, because one of the only reasons I didn't in this universe was that I was afraid of failing and wanted a surefire way to die. And given the type of person my mother is, if only to “assert” her second-amendment rights, I feel this death is one I narrowly escaped. And there are other universes where I didn't care if it was surefire or not. Maybe I overdosed. Maybe I died, maybe I survived, or maybe I destroyed my liver and died later.

While I won't pretend to understand multiuniverse-theory, (I tried reading like 6 wikipedia pages about it and not having any luck), it feels like I dodged a metaphorical bullet, so to speak.

I don't mean to be Candide-esqe, and assert this is the best of all possible worlds, because we all know it's not. But it is one where I am alive and I am grateful to be alive.