Wednesday, September 20, 2023

The Measure

The Measure 
By Nikki Erlick
William Morrow, 2022. 352 pages. Fiction

It happened quickly and without warning: all across the globe, from remote villages to crowded high-rises, small boxes appeared in front of every adult's door. The sturdy boxes were made of something close to mahogany, but it was their contents that turned the world upside down: each one contained a string, quickly understood to correlate to the length of its recipient's life. Between word-of-mouth and tireless news coverage, chaos ensued. Society splintered into "long-stringers" and "short-stringers," those destined to live long, healthy lives versus those now awaiting cancer diagnoses or fatal accidents. One small group of people stubbornly refuses to open their boxes, determined to live their lives exactly how they had been before. The author uses a thoughtful and genuine group of characters to outline society's widely varied reactions to the strings' arrival.

How could I not pick this book up?! The bright cover caught my eye, but it was the description on the inside jacket flap that really sparked my interest. This book is a futuristic thought experiment set close to the present day and it had me hooked. How would I react if it happened to me? What would happen to the life I've built with my friends and family? I genuinely think I would be one of the people who stubbornly refused to open my box, but then again...

If you like The Measure, you might also like: 

All the Lovers in the Night
By Mieko Kawakami
Europa, 2022. 221 pages. Fiction

Fuyuko Irie is a freelance copy editor in her mid-thirties. Working and living alone in a city where it is not easy to form new relationships, she has little regular contact with anyone other than her editor, Hijiri, a woman of the same age but with a very different disposition. When Fuyoku stops one day on a Tokyo street and notices her reflection in a storefront window, what she sees is a drab, awkward, and spiritless woman who has lacked the strength to change her life and decides to do something about it. As the long overdue change occurs, however, painful episodes from Fuyuko's past surface and her behavior slips further and further beyond the pale. This book is acute and insightful, entertaining and engaging; it will make readers laugh, and it will make them cry, but it will also remind them, as only the best books do, that sometimes the pain is worth it.

The Immortalists
By Chloe Benjamin
G.P. Putnam's Sons, 2018. Fiction

It's 1969 in NYC's Lower East Side, and word has spread of the arrival of a mystical woman, a traveling psychic who claims to be able to tell anyone the day they will die. The Gold children, four adolescents on the cusp of self-awareness, sneak out to hear their fortunes. Their prophecies inform their next five decades. The Immortalists probes the line between destiny and choice, reality, and illusion, this world and the next. It is a deeply moving testament to the power of story, the nature of belief, and the unrelenting pull of familial bonds.


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