And Again

Finished And Again by Jessica Chiarella.  I received a copy from the publisher for review.

Summary (from Goodreads):

In the spirit of Station Eleven and The Age of Miracles, this exciting literary debut novel imagines the consequences when four ordinary individuals are granted a chance to continue their lives in genetically perfect versions of their former bodies.

Would you live your life differently if you were given a second chance? Hannah, David, Connie, and Linda—four terminally ill patients—have been selected for the SUBlife pilot program, which will grant them brand-new, genetically perfect bodies that are exact copies of their former selves—without a single imperfection. Blemishes, scars, freckles, and wrinkles have all disappeared, their fingerprints are different, their vision is impeccable, and most importantly, their illnesses have been cured.

But the fresh start they’ve been given is anything but perfect. Without their old bodies, their new physical identities have been lost. Hannah, an artistic prodigy, has to relearn how to hold a brush; David, a Congressman, grapples with his old habits; Connie, an actress whose stunning looks are restored after a protracted illness, tries to navigate an industry obsessed with physical beauty; and Linda, who spent eight years paralyzed after a car accident, now struggles to reconnect with a family that seems to have built a new life without her. As each tries to re-enter their previous lives and relationships they are faced with the question: how much of your identity rests not just in your mind, but in your heart, your body?”

This book would be perfect for book clubs.  I think there’d be a great discussion centered around the question of whether you’d be willing to get a new body (your own body, granted, but still) if it meant that you’d lose important aspects of yourself.  Yes, it’d be wonderful to be healthy again (even without the added benefit of being beautiful) but would you be as excited about it if you lost the thing that made you special?

There are also the political questions (is it okay to clone people? How do you decide who gets a second chance at life and who has to remain paralyzed or die of cancer?).

And Again is full of the “What would I do in this situation?” questions.  And the answers aren’t easy, either.

I wish I had gotten more of an understanding of the four main characters but I wonder if Jessica Chiarella wasn’t deliberately trying to keep them as broad strokes so that the reader could more easily see themselves in each potential situation.



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