Review: Relativity by Cristin Bishara

September 12, 2013 4 - 4.5 Stars, Cristin Bishara, Parallel Lives, Science Fiction 6 ★★★★

Relativity by Cristin Bishara
Published by Walker Childrens on September 10, 2013
Genres: Science Fiction
Pages: 288
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
If Ruby Wright could have her way, her dad would never have met and married her stepmother Willow, her best friend George would be more than a friend, and her mom would still be alive. Ruby knows wishes can't come true; some things just can't be undone. Then she discovers a tree in the middle of an Ohio cornfield with a wormhole to nine alternative realities.

Suddenly, Ruby can access completely different realities, each containing variations of her life—if things had gone differently at key moments. The windshield wiper missing her mother’s throat…her big brother surviving his ill-fated birth…her father never having met Willow. Her ideal world—one with everything and everyone she wants most—could be within reach. But is there such a thing as a perfect world? What is Ruby willing to give up to find out?
I’m not going to pretend that I understood everything about parallel lives and wormholes as they were described in Relativity, but that did not detract from my enjoyment of this book.

Ruby wants what we all want, and what we all should have: loving parents and a happy home.  But she doesn’t have that.  Her mother died while Ruby was young, and her father remarried a woman who doesn’t pay a great deal of attention to Ruby, and Ruby’s stepsister is a vicious bully.  Ruby thinks she’s found a way to escape her unhappy home when she discovers a tree…with a magic door.  The interior of the tree has a dial that transports the occupant to ten different worlds.  By “worlds,” I don’t mean different locations.  The location stays the same, but each “world” represents a variety of minute and/or major differences in each of Ruby’s ten different, parallel lives.

Ruby travels to each location, seeking the “perfect” one.  She wants the life that has her mother and father living happily ever after.  But Ruby never took into account that while she remains aware of who the “real” Ruby is, the family members and friends she encounters have been living in their own parallel world, with their own versions of a different Ruby.

At the beginning of the story, I thought this would be straightforward.  Let Ruby find her mother and father living happily, and then ease right into that world.  But it’s not that simple.  Real Ruby is a stranger to the people living in these other worlds, and she has not given much thought to how her presence will affect them.  All of this leads to a heart-breaking moment at the end, when Ruby learns that her quest for happiness is going to extract a huge price from the people around her.  Ruby’s dilemma leads to some great questions: Are we entitled to anything in life?  What value do we place on our own happiness when it causes others to suffer?  Ruby must work out the answers to these questions, even as a glitch in the wormhole is propelling her to make a decision.

I felt so much compassion for Ruby, especially when it became clear that Ruby might not be able to get exactly what she wanted.  And I thank Bishara for giving us such a great sense of Ruby’s developing humanity.

Note – I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review posted at Goodreads.


6 Responses to “Review: Relativity by Cristin Bishara”

    • Stephanie K

      I’ve only been disappointed by one parallel lives book this year. I’m happy this falls into the other category, and I think you’d like it, too!

  1. Greg

    Nice review. I wanted to read this one before and it sounds like it’s really well done. What a trip it would be to explore alternate versions of our lives- love the premise.

  2. Nikki

    I really dig the sound of this book, especially because it touches on more than just the sci-fi stuff. I’ve noticed that in a lot of YA books, all we get to see is how the life around the MC is affected. What we don’t usually explore is how the MC’s life impacts others. And I think that’s what makes this book so unique — it forces the MC (and subsequently, the reader) to take a look at the world around them and think of others for a change. I like that!

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