A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Again Again, by popular young adult novelist E. Lockhart (We Were Liars), is a coming-of-age story about high-schooler Adelaide, whose younger brother is in recovery from addiction to opioids. Adelaide's fears for her brother and their damaged relationship are prominent themes. Although it's firmly grounded in the here and now, there's a slight sci-fi element from switching between narrating events and possibilities for how the events could have played out in various alternative universes. A harrowing overdose is narrated briefly without gory details, and an instance where her brother hurt himself with a hammer in order to get prescription pain killers is remembered. The only other violence is a dog mauling that mentions blood and pain, but there's no serious or permanent injury. Sexy stuff is mostly kissing and teens talking about love and relationships, but having sex is implied once without direct descriptions or mention of body parts. There are a couple of good examples of asking for consent and talking about what the partners want. Adelaide's roommate is a positive model for same-sex romance. Strong language is rare but includes "s--t," "bitch," and "poop-wiener-thunder-butt."
What's the story?
AGAIN AGAIN tells the story of Adelaide during the summer between her junior and senior year of high school. Her boyfriend of more than eight months just dumped her. She lives in constant fear that something terrible will happen to her brother, who's addicted to opioids. And her inability to concentrate on school work junior year means she's on academic probation unless she can make up lot of work over the summer. And she just met a really cute guy at the dog park whom she's pretty sure she's deeply in love with now. Woven throughout these events and realities are endless possibilities in the multiverse for different outcomes, different loves, and different kinds of happiness.
Is it any good?
Veteran YA author E. Lockhart adds an interesting twist to what would otherwise be a fairly typical teen-angst story by weaving alternative possibilities for different outcomes throughout the novel. Again Again asks things like, what if she didn't reply to that text, or what if Jack had never gone to the dog park, or what if her brother never became addicted to drugs? But the story doesn't just pose endless what-ifs. It also takes us on Adelaide's journey to learning how to cope, and where (and where not) to put all her hopes for happiness in life.
The novel starts a little slow and confusing. Adelaide's not very likeable at first, and it takes a little while for the way the alternative universes are presented to sink in and start to make sense. But as we learn more about Adelaide and everything she's going through, she becomes easier to relate to and understand. And the different fonts used for the alternatives help keep things clear. Author Lockhart sometimes creates short lines out of full sentences or paragraphs that look like poetry, but they aren't successfully poetic and mainly seem like trying too hard to do something different. The ending has as many possibilities as the rest of the story, but all of them manage to be satisfying to think about.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how Again Again deals with Toby's drug addiction. Is it a realistic portrayal? Did you learn anything new about addiction and recovery, or about the opioid crisis?
What do you think about the idea that there are multiple universes out there where things are slightly different, or events turn out differently? Most people have something they wish they could go back and do differently. If you could, what would you do over? Why?
Have you read any other books by E. Lockhart? Which one is your favorite, and why? If you haven't, would you like to now?
- Author: E. Lockhart
- Genre: Coming of Age
- Topics: Brothers and Sisters, High School
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Delacorte Press
- Publication date: June 2, 2020
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 12 - 17
- Number of pages: 304
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: June 15, 2020
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