Abby is a girl with a Plan. She knows where she wants to go to college and what she wants to study, and her entire high school career has been devoted to making those goals reality. But on the first day of her senior year in high school, she finds out that one of her classes has been cancelled and she has to choose between two options. She picks Drama on a whim – and ends up landing the lead part in thatfor year’s play, which, through a couple more flukes leads to her being cast in a real Hollywood movie. Except despite the director’s promises, the movie isn’t done filming in time for Abby to start college. And so, on the eve of her 18th birthday, when she ought to be on campus at Northwestern studying journalism, she’s stuck in California pondering her life choices.
The next morning, Abby wakes up in an entirely strange situation – she’s in a dorm room on campus at Yale. Stranger still, she now has two memories for how her high school senior year began. It turns out that our world has collided with a parallel world that is a year behind – and every choice that her parallel makes changes Abby’s current life…
So there were a lot of things about this book to enjoy. For the most part, I liked Abby herself, and I loved her best friend, Caitlin. The whole concept was a lot of fun, and the book did a great job exploring some different philosophical aspects of life (like predestination, free choice, and soulmates) without being at all preachy or bogging down the story. I was really invested in Abby and how things were going to work out for her, and I found the ending to be overall fairly satisfying.
However, there were definitely some aspects of this story that made basically no sense to me. The biggest one is that if Abby’s parallel is making these choices that are changing Abby’s life every day…is that just going to last forever?? Abby only ever seems worried about the short-term impact, but I found myself confused thinking about her whole life – like is she just going to keep waking up and finding everything totally different?? I was also a bit confused as to why she is living with the parallel’s choices, but because the parallel is a year behind, Abby only gets one new day’s memories at a time… but is somehow living with the whole year’s choices, but they also keep changing?? I’m not explaining this very well, maybe because it didn’t completely make sense to me.
There was also a big ???? to me concerning the ending, which I’ll put below the cut because it’s a definite spoiler regarding how the whole parallel situation is resolved.
All in all, though, I actually really enjoyed this book. I liked the characters and the friendships, and I felt like Abby did somewhat grow as a person. I also liked that Abby had parents who actually liked each other! Score! While I’m giving Parallel 3/5, I enjoyed it enough that I’m going to see if Lauren Miller has written anything else. And a special shout-out to TalesoftheMarvelous, whose review of this book inspired me to add to the TBR.
Spoilery questions concerning the ending below the cut –
So yes, basically in the end Abby ends up in California and in a situation where she realizes that she would have also been in this spot – except in different circumstances – if the whole parallel world thing had never happened. And then there’s a little earthquake thingy like the one that started this whole mess, and suddenly she’s back in her original life. And it was actually a fine way to end the story, and it pulled things together on a philosophical level, but at this point it’s been around three months since this whole thing started… so it feels kind of awkward – like what has the “real” Abby been doing all this time?? Has she actually been dating the older movie-star-creeper dude all this time?? I found myself full of questions as to how she was going to readjust to her new real life.
So while the ending was satisfying as far as the story and philosophy goes, it definitely let me down in the logic department. Ah well…