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Monday, May 22, 2017

Book Review: Every Anxious Wave by Mo Daviau

My book club in Charlotte not only moved their meeting by 3 weeks so that I could attend after having moved away last year, but they also knew I'd be under the gun about reading books for my new job, so they super-thoughtfully even picked a Macmillan book newly in paperback! That was so cool of them! I feel very loved. Also, I miss my book club.

Karl is nearly 40, owns a bar in Chicago, and used to be a band, when one day he finds a wormhole in his closet that takes him back in time. He shows it to his friend (and bar regular) Wayne, who connects computers and a generator to it, figures out a way to send people to a particular time and place, and how to get them back with their smart phone. They start a small business sending people back to old rock concerts, so they can experience an idol in person, or relive old glory days. Everything is going swimmingly until Wayne wants to go back to 1980 and prevent John Lennon's murder. They argue, after all, Karl has been dead-set against doing anything to change the past from day one. But Wayne wins the argument and in his frustration and haste, Karl mistypes and sends Wayne to the Upper West Side of Manhattan in 980. Yep, 980. 600 years give or take before the locals set eyes on a white man. Uh oh. Frantic, Karl contacts Lena, a physicist at Northwestern (based on the band T-shirt she's wearing in her faculty picture) to help him get Wayne back. And Lena turns out to be much more than Karl bargained for...

I don't want to give away too much so I'm going to end the plot synopsis there. I found it thoroughly enjoyable, not too science-y (it helps that our protagonist is the bar owner, not the physicist, which also helps the author gloss over a lot of technical and scientific details), with lots of juicy topics to discuss. Alas, when discussing a book for an hour that glosses over details, you do start to see inconsistencies and gaps, however the discussions were very enjoyable and overall, it still held up for me. While reading it, I felt the plot was a little meandering and I'm not sure the author knew where she was going at all times, and yes, some threads were dropped, but I liked Karl so much and felt for his conundrums, so I happily overlooked those flaws. It deals with some issues all time-traveling stories deal with—loops in the time continuum; the ethics of changing the past, even if you think it's for the better; will you like the consequences of something you've changed, even if unintentionally or with the best of intentions? What I found the most intriguing question was, if you can love someone enough to improve things in their past that mean they won't be the same person and likely won't love you again in the present or the future? As another great music novel asks, “What came first—the music or the misery? Did I listen to the music because I was miserable? Or was I miserable because I listened to the music?" (High Fidelity by Nick Hornby.)

This book is published by my employer, Macmillan.

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