When you look at your life do you see crossroads, where one directional deviation could change everything? For Kelly, this point came around her 17th birthday in high school. Twelve years later, in one reality she’s a starving artist in Chicago and in another she’s a “glorified housewife” in small-town Michigan.
At the intersection of science fiction and thriller, The Other Me by Sarah Zachrich Jeng explores alternate realities and the future technologies that could allow them.
Without going too much into the plot, The Other Me starts out on Kelly Holter’s 29th birthday. She is in downtown Chicago at her best friend Linnea’s art gallery debut. However, everything changes when she steps through a doorway and emerges in a different life. In this life, Kelly never attended the prestigious art school and ended up marrying her high school sweetheart, Eric. Now, she lives a quiet life in suburbia with no idea about how she got there and even less of an idea about how to get back.
Unlike some other “alternate reality” books that I have read, I have found this one to be more clever. In this book, changes in the timeline are not so straightforward or logical. For example, in the reality where Kelly goes to art school, her best friend Linnea drives one brand of car, however, in the reality where Kelly never meets her best friend, Linnea drives a completely different brand.
Personally, I do not enjoy sci-fi, however, this book was what I would consider “soft” sci-fi, in that everything in the world is exactly the same, except one change. With the backdrop of the modern day to this story, it basically reads like fiction until the last quarter or so. This book is told from a single perspective and is deeply psychological, yet also action packed (especially at the end). As a thriller, the pace picks up quickly at points, and the plot keeps the reader guessing. Additionally, unlike some other stories (and I’m specifically thinking of “The Midnight Library”), the ending is not one that you would necessarily anticipate.
One of the beautiful things about reading this book for me was that I really did not know what to expect while reading it. For this reason, I will say no more!
You may be interested in The Other Me if you enjoyed:
- In Five Years — Rebecca Serle
- Maybe in Another Life — Taylor Jenkins Reid
- The Midnight Library — Matt Haig
- The Nine Lives of Rose Napolitano — Donna Freitas
- The One — John Marrs (more here)