Book Review: Through to You by Emily Hainsworth

Through to YouThrough to You
Emily Hainsworth
Balzer + Bray, October 2012
ISBN 978-0-06-209419-3
Hardcover

From the publisher—

Camden Pike has been grief-stricken since his girlfriend, Viv, died. Viv was the last good thing in his life: helping him rebuild his identity after a career-ending football injury, picking up the pieces when his home life shattered, and healing his pain long after the meds wore off. And now, he’d give anything for one more glimpse of her. But when Cam makes a visit to the site of Viv’s deadly car accident, he sees some kind of apparition. And it isn’t Viv.

The apparition’s name is Nina, and she’s not a ghost. She’s a girl from a parallel world, and in this world, Viv is still alive. Cam can’t believe his wildest dreams have come true. All he can focus on is getting his girlfriend back, no matter the cost. But in this other world Viv and Cam have both made very different choices, things between them have changed in unexpected ways, and Viv isn’t the same girl he remembers. Nina is keeping some dangerous secrets, too, and the window between the worlds is shrinking every day. As Cam comes to terms with who this Viv has become and the part Nina played in his parallel story, he’s forced to choose: Stay with Viv or let her go-before the window closes between them once and for all.

There are many things an author can do when writing alternate universes and there is much that can go wrong with the story but that is not the case with Through to You. The author spends a good deal of time on character development and it is those characters that make this an enticing and absorbing read.

Wishful thinking might lead a young man suffering intense grief to want the loved one back, no matter how that happens. It’s no surprise that the teenaged Cam is desperately missing Viv and, when he sees an apparition at her memorial site, no one, Cam included, would think anything other than that he must be delusional. The apparition isn’t Viv, though, so why would he see this girl, this Nina?

When it becomes apparent that Nina is from a parallel world and that she knows Cam in her world, the possibility of being with the girl he loves is more than Cam has imagined even in his worst moments. Is he willing to give up everything he knows to have her back…or will she come into his world? Is she really the Viv that Cam remembers? And where is the true love Cam is searching for?

Cam is one of those characters that sticks in the reader’s mind a long time. Ms. Hainsworth has done a wonderful job making him “real”, so to speak, a young man whose emotional roller coaster becomes the reader’s. I thoroughly enjoyed going on the ride with him as he cycles through grief, anger, remorse and then joy and hope and, finally, comes to an uneasy peace. As he sees how different his life might have been if he had made certain choices, it’s a privilege to watch him mature into a more thoughtful young man who understands what has to happen. Both the reader and Cam must decide: if you could change the past, should you?

There are moments when the story is too slow and sometimes Cam’s obsession becomes a bit much but Emily Hainsworth‘s debut is a strong one and I look forward to many more tales from this author, beginning with Never is a Promise in Fall 2013.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, November 2012.