Sunday, May 1, 2016

And Again by Jessica Chiarella

Four end-life patients participate in a clinical trial to transplant part of their brain and all their memories into new, cloned, biologically cleansed versions of their own body.

The point to be made is this: how much of our personality/humanity is in our head and how much is body-centric? Are habits part of your brain or in your muscles? Is love in your limbic system or in your heart?

This was a unique audiobook that utilized four narrators - one for each character. The book is told chronologically, but switches from person to person to give multiple perspectives. Each character struggles with the idea of "self" in their new bodies, and they work through some of their concerns in group-therapy sessions. But each also holds secrets - thoughts or actions they can't even share with these few people who might understand.

It's a fantastic story, mostly about internal struggles of self - the author mercifully leaves the science part rather vague and mostly out of the action. My favorite character is the young painter who can no longer make magic with her hands; when you've defined yourself by a talent, who are you when that's gone? I also enjoyed the way each character weighs out the despoiling of their new body: sex, alcohol, cigarettes, food, tattoos, scars and more.

No comments: