In The Other Us Harper moves away from her usual repertoire we have come to love and enjoy. She takes a big step away from her witty romantic comedies and leads her readers into this emotionally complex story. She still manages to infuse her special brand of humour into the characters and the story though.
I really enjoyed it. Leaving the elaborate plot aside, and I do so enjoy reads that make you ponder and sometimes screw with your brain, I do think this story is one readers will be able to relate to. Why? Because the majority of people will always believe that the grass is greener on the other side. They may not believe it all the time, especially during long-term relationships, but there will be occasions when they think about greener pastures.
Maggie wakes up one morning to find herself right back on the day she made a choice, the kind of choice that determines which path you take in life. So, the question is whether she should take this bizarre opportunity to choose a different life for herself.
Imagine being able to revisit some of the most important decisions in your life, but armed with the knowledge of your future. Sounds like an intriguing proposition to me, having the ability to change the outcome of your future. Except for the minor issue of the butterfly effect. You change one detail and inadvertently you may set a whole different sequence of events in motion.
Maggie has a grown daughter and is married to a dependable, and yet a wee bit boring Dan. She is thrilled to wake up a few decades earlier and have the opportunity to pick the love of her life Jude. Life with Jude means not having her daughter or her best friend Becca though. Is being with Jude worth it? And as if that wasn’t complicated enough, Maggie jumps back and forth into more than one alternative life.
She has no control over when, where or who she will end up with from one day to the next and is thrown into a state of constant emotional confusion. Does she give up one person to live with another, will she ever see her child again or in fact ever become a mother? In fact I think that was one of the most prolific questions the story raised. I’m sure plenty of people have mentioned flippantly that if given the chance they would have done things differently and made other choices. If you have children now that also means those children would probably not even exist in the new reality. So a choice against the father of your children is also a choice against the children you love. Maggie has to deal with the same dilemma.
Harper delivers an intriguing premise and an invigorating read. The time-hopping element and parallel realities give this story undertones of a science fiction plot, however the whole scenario could also just be one very long vivid dream. A dream full of Freudian slips with far-reaching consequences, all with the ultimate goal of comprehending that your own lawn is the same shade of green. Your subconscious often sends you very vivid messages, maybe this is just a very graphic wake-up call for Maggie. Kudos to Harper for the great read and the ‘nudge nudge wink wink’ Ewing reference, it was the first thing I thought of.