Come With Me
by Schulman, Helen

A part-time employee of a tech company owned by her friend's 19-year-old son acts as his guinea pig to test an algorithm that allows people to access their "multiverses" and see their alternative life choices and paths. 40,000 first printing.

*Starred Review* An astute comedy of manners with elements of speculative fiction, Schulman's affecting sixth novel (This Beautiful Life?, 2011) is touched with an awareness of the tragic potential of human choice. Silicon Valley mom Amy, breadwinner by default now that her depressed husband, Dan, has lost his job as a print journalist, works in a start-up run by Donny, a junior at Stanford. Donny treats Amy as a surrogate mom and enlists her to test out some cutting-edge software that allows users to experience the lives that would have played out had they made different decisions along the way. Dan, meanwhile, tries out an alternate future reality as he escapes secretively to Japan with an attractive transgender journalist, leaving Amy to cope with three kids who have their own sets of problems. Rummaging in comfortingly dense detail through the lives of Amy's nuclear family and those of whom they touch, Schulman uncovers parallels between Donny's program and the processes that lead to life-changing forks in the road in everyday life. Schulman's intriguing premise gives depth to this domestic drama. Adding to that, every sentence sparkles, even minor characters have full and surprising lives, and she pulls it all together in an elegant ending. Copyright 2018 Booklist Reviews.

A Palo Alto-set domestic drama with a touch of sci-fi: What if the results of one's life choices could be explored not only in daydreams, but with a virtual reality-type app that generates personal "multiverses"? Dan and Amy are raising a high school senior named Jack and much younger twins, Miles and Theo. Dan is a journalist who's been unemployed too long; his whole sense of self is crumbling, and he's about to have a midlife crisis involving an attractive reporter and a trip to Japan. Amy works for the 19-year-old son of her best friend back on the East Coast. The boy has started a tech company out of his dorm at Stanford, working on a system for exploring multiverses called (his grandma often told his grandpa she should have married the furrier) and using Amy as a guinea pig. Jack has a serious girlfriend who lives in Texas; they spend all their waking hours together via Skype and FaceTime, and she even has dinner with his family. The twins, known as Thing One and Thing Two, are both having issues at elementary school. Around these main characters, Schulman (This Beautiful Life, 2011, etc.) has brought to life a large cast of supporting players with intelligence and humor, even as the story veers pretty suddenly into tragedy in the final third. Even if the workings of the gizmo that allows the user to experience multiverses are never really clear or believable, the questions it raises are profound and engaging and they're woven into the "regular" part of the plot as well, with characters ruminating over the consequences of decisions past and present, great and small. There are a formidable number of elements crammed into this novel, mostly successfully—nuclear disaster in Japan feels a little off-track, while teen suicide clusters in San Jose are on the money—but Schulman is just such a good writer, and the things she's thinking about are so interesting, you'll stay with her right until the end. Richly imagined, profo u nd, and of the moment. Copyright Kirkus 2018 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

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