________________ CM . . . . Volume XXIII Number . . . .March 17, 2017


Me (and) Me.

Alice Kuipers.
Toronto, ON: HarperTrophyCanada, April, 2017.
281 pp., trade pbk., $14.99.
ISBN 978-1-44344-882-6.

Grades 9 and up / Ages 14 and up.

Review by Ann Ketcheson.

*** /4

Reviewed from Advance Reading Copy.



A shudder goes through me. My surroundings start spinning.

We’re quiet for a moment and then she says, “You want to talk about it?”

“No. I don’t know. It’s...” My voice trails off. I don’t know if I can handle too much flaky stuff right now. When my mom was dying, people used to say dumb things like, Think positive. That will help. Like it might. Or You need to fight this. Like Mom wasn’t. Or Have you tried eating more kale? Going to acupuncture? Reiki? Mom didn’t resent people for being kind, but sometimes the wrong words made everything worse.

“Talk, already,” she says.

“Okay,” I say. “I’m dealing with some weird stuff.” “What sort of weird stuff?”

“It started with my phone. No. It started on the day that Alec nearly drowned.”

“Tell me.”

“I’ve been getting weird messages on my phone, and videos. Well, I think I’m getting them, but they always vanish. And I’m having....hallucinations. Really strange.”

“What do the messages say?”

“They talk about Alex. As is he’s not in a coma. wonder if I’m just wishing it was the case – maybe I’m imagining an alternative reality? Or maybe I’ve lived this whole life before? God, none of that makes sense at all.”

“You’re not exactly the sort of person to make this kind of thing up. Perhaps you’re super sensitive to whatever’s happening to you.”

“But what do you think that is?”

She flips her hair over her shoulder. “I have no idea. I just think the world is more mysterious than we can possibly imagine.”

“I think you’re right.”

In the quiet between us, I hear Suzanne’s agonized cry.


Lark and Alec decide to celebrate her seventeenth birthday by canoeing on the lake. All is well until they hear screams nearby. Five-year-old Annabelle, someone Lark used to babysit, has fallen from another canoe and her mother screams in terror. Both Lark and Alec jump out to try and rescue the child, but Alec hits his head, and he, too, is drowning. Lark can save only one person and is thus faced with the most difficult choice of her life.

     Nothing is the same again for Lark. She begins to receive strange phone texts and often hallucinates that she is in rising water. She wants to continue writing songs and performing with her band, but the relationships there become strained. Her father begins to show signs of heart problems. Lark starts to think that she is suffering from some sort of post-traumatic shock which is slowly but surely driving her mad.

     Kuipers presents her young adult readers with a conundrum based on the terrible choice Lark had to make that day in the lake. When she makes this choice, her life actually splits into two parts, and readers see the consequences of her choosing to save Alec and then a parallel story about the consequences of her saving Annabelle instead. The two possibilities send her life on very different trajectories, and Lark finds herself researching and contemplating the idea that people might actually be able to live parallel lives.

     The theme of living parallel lives is the author’s method of telling this coming-of-age story in a new and different way. Like other fictional characters, Lark must make significant choices which threaten to tear her life apart. In attempting to regain control, she learns a great deal about herself, what is truly important to her and what she hopes to get out of life.

     The theory of parallel lives makes an interesting premise for the novel, but it is also confusing for readers. Lark seems to be two quite different people, and those around here also change depending on their reactions to her. Thus characters in the novel shift in terms of actions and viewpoints and become fuzzy. As well, because the novel, itself, shifts back and forth in time, readers read the events of the same day, often beginning with exactly the same words, in completely different ways. Attempting to keep track of who had been saved and who was dead and what was happening made this reader lose track of some of the more important themes.

     Young adults will watch Lark as she struggles with her two realities, and those interested in the paranormal will particularly enjoy the somewhat irregular plot twists and turns presented by Kuipers.


Ann Ketcheson, a retired teacher-librarian and high school teacher of English and French, lives in Ottawa, ON.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.

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