Who would you be in another life? What would have happened if you hadn’t bought that latte, wandered down that alley, or met the love of your life? If, Then by Corvallis author Kate Hope Day examines the “what ifs” and “could haves” that might have redefined our existence.
If, Then follows the story of four neighbors, who begin experiencing startling and unsettling glimpses into the lives that could have been theirs. From the husband of a chief of surgery seeing himself battered and dirty, sitting in his own driveway, to a new mother watching a different version of herself rock a baby boy instead of the baby girl she has, the characters experience the same earthquake feeling, the same metallic taste in their mouths and the same eerie feeling while watching a different version of themselves. The tale takes place on the side of a not-so-dormant volcano, in a fictional town called Clearing, Oregon. The stories culminate in the eruption of the volcano, inside the disaster shelter built by one of the characters.
What I Liked:
I love a book that makes me think, and this story definitely did that. The lives of the characters are woven intricately within the idea of “what could have been.” This book made me stop to question my own life and what might have happened if I had taken a different path or moved into a different apartment in college. The story introduces the idea of parallel universes in a way that didn’t overwhelm me, but instead drew me in and made me consider the other “Kyras” that might exist.
I adored the characters in this book. A good writer creates characters that we like, but a great writer’s characters are people who we can relate to and understand on a deeper level. Every single one of the main characters were people that I wanted to learn more about. I was intimately involved in their stories and I wanted them to succeed. They were normal people, with talents, weaknesses, and dreams; individuals who were coming into themselves through the experience of seeing a different version.
What Was Missing:
I honestly could have read a lot more of this book. I felt like the ending was a bit rushed and that there was more story to tell. I don’t know if I feel this way because I became so attached to the characters, or if there truly could have been more, but either way, I longed to continue reading after the final page.
I also would have liked to hear more from a few of the supporting characters, namely the son of the Chief of Surgery, the husband of the new mother, and the father of the Real Estate Agent. I felt that these characters could have had bigger roles within the plot, which would have added to the joyous cacophony of stories that rung throughout this novel. Perhaps this was the “more” I was looking for at the end of the book.
I would highly recommend this book as one to pick up if you’re drawn to complicated tales that bring together a multitude of story lines. It flirts with the edges of science fiction, while also staying firmly grounded in the real world. It’s also a pretty easy read, and it held my attention, so it would be great for a longer plane or car ride.
About the Author:
According to her website, Kate Hope Day received a Bachelor of Arts from Bryn Mawr College and gained her PhD in English at the University of Pittsburg. She currently lives in Oregon with her family, including her husband and their two children. Her second novel is titled In the Quick.
If, Then was published in 2019 by Random House.
For More Information about Kate Hope Day you can visit her website here.
By Kyra Young