There are hundreds of lives sown inside Pretty Little Mistakes, Heather McElhatton's singularly spectacular, breathtakingly unique novel that has more than 150 possible endings. You may end up in an opulent mansion or homeless down by the river; happily married with your own corporation or alone and pecked to death by ducks in London; a Zen master in Japan or morbidly obese in a trailer park.
Is it destiny or decision that controls our fate? You can't change your past and start over from scratch in real life--but in Pretty Little Mistakes, you can! But be warned, choose wisely.
Adults who remember the Choose Your Own Adventure YA novels are the target audience for this debut from Public Radio International producer McElhatton. The book opens with a female second person's high school graduation, which leads "you" to two possible choices: travel or college. Each succeeding section (mostly between one and four pages) similarly offers two options for proceeding, leading to an impressive array of possible developments, from a trip to Rome that can result in a live-in Italian artist boyfriend, to a dead-end job as a phone sex operator with the moniker of Stormy Sioux. Situations include the playfully surreal, such as a stint in a German circus as a nude ice dancer, and the tender, as in a life lived on the Iceland coast with a lovely, seal-obsessed child who has Down syndrome and a devoted scientist husband. There's also crystal meth addiction, rape, death by explosion, bursts of salty humor and moments of descriptive lyricism, especially in McElhatton's many vivid imaginings of the afterlife ("heaven is a junk shop... broken beauty everywhere"). Nevertheless, many situations are cartoonish; some of the events repeat or overlap; and "You" remains a cipher, making this "Do-Over Novel" more role-playing for the rut-stuck than a good read. (May)
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William Morrow Paperbacks
May 01, 2007
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