“There is no loneliness worse than a loneliness being surrounded by other people.”
Amy is a full time mother and part time PR person for a start-up tech company. Donny, son of her best friend, has developed an algorithm that can open the world of “multiverses” to the user. Every possible decision, stemming to a new reality, the possibilities of which are infinite. He wants Amy to be his guinea pig for the software.
Her husband Dan is an out of work journalist, struggling through a profound mid-life crisis. When he is offered the chance to embark on a once in a lifetime story, with a woman that makes him feel alive once again, he can’t resist the temptation.
As Amy struggles with her husband’s decision, and a tragedy they never saw coming hits at home, she finds the temptation of seeing herself in another life too appealing to resist. Does seeing the possibility of another life hold the answers to the one she’s living? Or does it make the answers too unbearable to accept?
“I really hate that shit, Dan, as if we all have to be identical to understand the texture and taste of what are bedrock human feelings.”
Come With Me has everything I tend to like in a novel. The writing is beautiful and the meaning is in depth and profound. It’s a unique novel, written more like a series of vignettes rather than a story that moves linearly forward. That isn’t to say it doesn’t tie together, or even move forward, because it does. It’s more that the story is a journey, and sometimes to understand the way forward, we have to understand what came first.
This story takes period over a short period of time, just three days, but by tying in the back stories before diving into the present, we gain a much deeper understanding into each character. The novel follows Amy and her family, but the characters we meet aren’t limited to her familial unit. Some we see more than once, others just to understand their specific nuanced role in that moment. But what this reveals is how intricately interwoven our lives are with others. That the cause and effect of our own lives doesn’t happen in a vacuum, and that these consequences can often be hidden and unknown, even to the people intimately involved.
“He was the realist in the family. Why waste your time on something that would never possibly happen?”
Ultimately, this novel is a deep dive into the question of human existence and our understanding of the human condition. Technology is bringing more possibilities to life, and the greatest one, the one every single person has grappled with at some point in our lives, is the profound and unanswerable question: What if?
Much like any novel tackling that enormous two worded question, Come With Me doesn’t profess to offer us any answers. It can feel disjointed at times, the plot lost in the mind of the character we are currently reading about, but this is also the beauty in the novel. This is life. The chaos of it. The fragmented way we tend to only see things in hindsight, after we’ve made the decision, after it’s too late. How we see the world the way we want, and sometimes the way we don’t. How sometimes we can’t ever really see things until tragedy strikes. And what the temptation to go beyond that limitation could mean.
Being set in the backdrop of Silicon Valley, where people are probably tackling and struggling with ideas very much in line with what Come With Me presents, is genius. These are questions we will face. Can we, or should we, be able to answer the unanswerable? What should the limitations of technology be? And what price are we already paying?
Thank you so much to Jen Murfee and Harper Voyager for sending this thought provoking read my way!