Archive for the ‘Parallel Universe’ Category

Precocious nine year olds can be exasperating and when you’ve got a heart disease and a helicopter mother, you are a uni-sensor (someone who knows things before or as they happen), and a science nerd, it can be a bit much. Julian is just such a person. He, his moms and his sister, Pookie,  move from Washington, D.C. to the boondocks of Maine to open a bed and breakfast. Upon arriving they receive a notice that their elderly neighbor, Mr. X, is suing them to demolish the addition they put on the house for the B&B because it hinders his view of the ocean.

Pookie suggests Julian go over and befriend Mr. X in hopes that he change his mind, thus beginning a relationship between Julian and Mr. X, who recently lost his wife to cancer, and has been described as a lonely man with nothing to live for.

The Incredible Magic of Being by Kathryn Erskine (author of Mockingbird among other tween books) describes exactly that…the magic of being alive, the magic of the world around us, the magic that is family. Everyone in the book, Julian’s moms and sister, Julian,  and Mr. X all have issues that they must deal with. But it’s Julian’s positivity (is that a word?) that shines through and, in many instances, gets people through their issues.

Julian is a science nerd and through Julian, The Incredible Magic of Being cites many scientific facts and theories. It also has “farts”, Facts and Random Thoughts, at the end of each chapter, some of which we learn from (facts) and some of which are merely random thoughts. (Julian is a font of information and I got the feeling that he is on the autism spectrum somewhere, although that might not have been the author’s intention. Caitlin, in Mockingbird, has Asperger’s Syndrome, by the way.)

The one thing about science, according to Julian, is that whether or not you believe it in, it is there. And the fact that we don’t believe or understand it, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. So, when Julian talks to his best friends in parallel universes, you’ve just got to believe. When he can sense occurrences in other locations, you just have to believe. When he describes his sister as a black hole, you’ve got to believe.

I love upbeat characters. In some ways, The Incredible Magic of Being reminds me of Soar by Joan Bauer whose main character also has a heart problem but won’t let it keep him down. I think kids will relate to Julian and his teenage sister and enjoy his thoughts and escapades. The Incredible Magic of Being is a fun, light read even though the subject sounds kind of heavy. Have fun with it and even learn something, such as what the Messier Objects are.

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OK. Here’s where I’ll say it. This cosmos we live in is grand and full of wonderful surprises.Parallel These surprises will continue to reveal themselves and, more likely than not, they’ll be things we never even dreamed of. So, to think that we humans are the only intelligent life in our universe, in my opinion, is ludicrous. I believe that intelligent life exists elsewhere, although it may not look or sound or think like us. I also think that these beings may have visited our planet and may continue to do so. If we’re exploring space, why wouldn’t they?

If you believe the above, it’s not a giant leap to think that there could be a parallel universe; that the Ed Goldberg of here and now may exist in a parallel universe, at a different time. (I’m not as sure of this as I am of other intelligent beings, but I’m not dismissing it either.)

Such is the case with Abigail (Abby) Barnes in Lauren Miller’s debut novel, Parallel. The problem is that, while normally these parallel universes exist independently, her present and parallel lives collide. Unfortunately, her parallel Abby’s (Abby 2, for these purposes) life is about a year behind. Because of this collision, an action by Abby 2 impacts the life of Abby, who has no memory of the intervening year since Abby 2 hasn’t lived it yet.

Sound complicated? Well, it’s not…it’s merely the way I describe it that sounds convoluted. Simply put, similar to a butterfly flapping its wings in the Amazon and causing a ripple in Africa, such is Abby 2’s impact on current Abby. Enough of that.

Lauren Miller has written a very interesting, fun read and it’s not complicated following the events (as some reviews suggested). In Librarything, the 10 reviews gave it  4 1/2 stars. Not bad! You immediately like Abby and her geeky friend Caitlin. You sympathize when she wakes up in a strange place because of an action in the parallel world. Of course, there’s romance involved as well. You have to expect that.

Overall, Parallel is a fun read. (I will admit, I didn’t love the last few pages of the ending, but I understand why Ms. Miller ended the book that way.)

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