By Emily Hainsworth
Available now from Balzer + Bray (HarperCollins)
Camden Pike's life hasn't been the best lately. His dad left his mother. An injury destroyed his future as a football player. Worst of all, his girlfriend Viv died in a car accident that he blames himself for. He's in therapy, but not willing to talk to his doctor about Viv. Then, one day, he finds a transparent girl named Nina at the site of the accident. They can cross into each other's world.
And in Nina's world, Viv didn't die.
Emily Hainsworth's debut novel, at 272 pages, is one of the shorter books I've read recently. But she uses her page count well. Cam goes on an emotional journey as much as a journey through parallel universes. The people on the other side aren't exactly like their counterparts, but there are enough similarities to make him look at his past in a new way.
But the tight focus on Cam and his emotions means the girls sometimes aren't as fleshed out. Viv, despite her pivotal role in the plot, is pretty cartoonish. And Nina's like a Dour Pixie Dream Girl, more there to make Cam think twice about his life rather than a character in her own right. We know that she's responsible and loves her family, but that's a rather thin description.
I really did enjoy reading THROUGH TO YOU. I wish more authors played around with parallel universes. For some reason I find them more exciting than time travel. And I am a big fan of character-driven stories, and Cam is an interesting narrator. Considering that he isn't totally sane, it even casts some unreliability on all the science fiction shenanigans he gets up to. But more importantly, he does grow as a character. His path to moving on may be very different than the usual, but THROUGH TO YOU is still an interesting portrait of grief.
I think THROUGH TO YOU is a wonderful start to Hainsworth's career. It's an unusual and affecting novel. I just hope her sophomore effort has beefier female characters.