“Once Again” (2020) | BES July – Aug. 2021



CHOSEN BOOK:

“Once Again” (2020) by Catherine Wallace Hope

((fiction novel))


TRIGGER WARNINGS:

pedophilia, crime, substance abuse, murder, preying on children, suicide, grief, assault, abduction, language, “crazy,” drug overdose, PTSD, depression, gaslighting, narcissism.


THEMES:

Grit, overcoming adversity (again and again and again), strength, time lines, time, time travel, quantum physics, alternate universes, pain, emotion, hope, light, meaning, psychological thriller, keeps you guessing, cooking, very descriptive language, quotes, parts (part 1, 2, etc.), healing, (group) therapy, flashbacks, mathematics, time stones, memories, consciousness, simulators, Colorado, what if chances, paving into a new future, change, detectives, medical scenes, black holes, white holes.


SUMMARY:

Hi hi, the summary for this book is tough for me because I want to talk candidly about what the story as it unfolds is about but I don’t exactly want to give it away either! Ahaha, SUCH a problematic pickle!

Either way, if I start off the review vague but get more specific in the Critical/Questioning Corner, it’s because I’m grappling with these decisions. Honestly though, I LOVED this book. It was such a good read. I definitely still struggled with my re-reading and having to go back at times because I couldn’t remember things (for instance, by p. 120 I was angry trying to figure out who Aidon was lmao) or things that I thought were one way turned out to be another way, etc. Overall though, I pretty much devoured this book in a few long sessions, which was super nice and wonderful!

Something I haven’t been able to do in a long time. It’s a complex read in terms of the quantum physics, alternate time lines and all the consistencies and confusions that arise from the popular and well-explored in movies (especially lately–I’m looking at you, MCU) time travel components, the makeshift of the science fiction involved and the tang of creativity that envelops it all.

There is betrayal. There is the darker sides of humanity. And there’s a mother who will stop at nothing to save her daughter. I should probably explain…

So, the story focuses on Erin Fullarton and Zac Fullarton, parents to the six-year old child Korrie. We start in present day where it’s June 2021 and slowly and gradually learn that the shell of what is left of Erin is because of the intense grief and pain that came with losing her child. We don’t find out right away how this happened exactly but it is revealed later. Zac is working on some time and physics type of thing where he has created two time stones, one as Erin’s wedding ring and a second a year or so later. He begins to spend his day in the ‘Clean Room’ of his workplace on the kinda anniversary of Korrie’s death; as time begins to shift and present itself, Erin is forced to realize that what she could potentially prevent is within her hands and only something she could do (she tried, valiantly, to get aid but it didn’t come readily, unfortunately).

She decides to put her everything into changing the story that her life had took a dark turn in.

We get the perspective a few times from Korrie’s killer, the icky yucky pedophile who–ooof, his chapters were particularly disgusting. Hated them. Hated him.

There’s also the Detective from Korrie’s case and that is tied up nicely at the end but I’ll leave it there for now.

Erin faces a LOT of adversity throughout this book–trying to get people to understand the gravity of what was happening and that things themselves were repeating and people treating her like she was “crazy” for it, etc. She realizes some of the pattern with the time shifts–one minute it’s summer and the next she’s stepping into winter. And when the simulation that Zac is running falls into the abyss, she recognizes that too. There’s a whole section I could talk about but I’ll say this instead:

This story will keep you guessing all the way through. You’re going to get pissed off, elated, enthralled, interested, sometimes bored (sorry, for all the physics talk! But, they lighten up, too!), wondering what certain things have significance, confused at all the time travel and how things are happening but then jumping so far aboard that it’s just natural and where the writer wanted to take us with this story that needed to be told. It’s such a gripping book. Every time I started to celebrate Erin’s wins–another thing impeded her path. “No!” I would internally shout. “You were so close!”

This book had a great balance and instances of things looking up, then going down, then looking up, then going down. It reminded me, towards the end of the story, of a video game I’m playing on the Nintendo Switch: “Journey of the Broken Circle.” Very similar I’m finding (in the sense that the story line paves the way from when things are seemingly at their most hopeless, there’s still a way through and out the other side to better times, better life and better health.) This book has a lot of those themes too.

Ultimately, the last thing I’ll say is this: The ending and those final scenes were so poignant and wishing to be captured, frozen in time as they were, forever and always. For time to retreat backwards without memory, with repetition and with different details… I don’t understand quite why they were different details, was it just the universe that was at play or did something change within the intervals of the waves on the simulation, it’s never quite explained but maybe it doesn’t have to be. Things are different and yet similar and surprising and then just are. They shine with the possibility that only having read the book’s prior pages, knowing how certain events unfolded and fell apart, only then could you appreciate those small changes that made such a different outcome. The ways it was described was very thought-provoking for me–that little bit of wonder when you take a moment to think and realize right then and there in the present day reality: how could this event unfold next? What if I acted on this thought now? Or what if I never did? What would change? What led to what? What would be different?

Time is an elusive beast. The universe works in strange ways. Maybe that we’re all here, for however long that is, is all that matters. 💙💙💙🤍


BOOK LENGTH:

276 pages


MY RECOMMENDATION SCORE:

4.5/5


OUTSTANDING QUOTES OR IDEAS:

  1. I love the way Erin in her grief is described in this book, particularly in the first act. Hope uses the metaphor and theme even with Erin’s husband and it’s such a magical little callback. I found this part particularly captivating and relatable at the start of the book: “{Erin is considering and getting ready to make some muffins} Did she even know where the whisk was anymore? And with that, she was overwhelmed and could not face it. There had been a time when she could have put muffins together without a thought..now she couldn’t handle the idea of even starting them” (Hope, 2020, p. 11)
  2. The pain of the grief that not only Erin has felt from the shock waves of Korrie’s death, but the fact that Zac was isolated in his own is rocked even harder and with more intensity in this description here: “The other Erin, as he’d begun thinking of her, the one who’d replaced his wife, this lifeless Erinesque version who had appeared when the love of his life was sucked into the void…When Korrie died, Erin departed without him for regions unknown” (Hope, 2020, p. 16)         Personally, I found this was very relatable and how I tell the story in my fanfic “Distorted & Disordered” (to be fair, quite a bit of this book reminded me of D&D but I think a couple other fics were also on my mind too).
  3. When the story behind the nickname is revealed of how Erin and Zac called Korrie, it’s just so breathtaking. Like, she’s in the midst of a dream and consciousness and just the way it was written, thinking she’s lost her Korrie from when she was just a fetus, remembering the bump and then not feeling it, looking for her in the blankets, damn it’s powerful writing.
  4. I’m pretty sure this was unintentional but the commentary for those who are suffering from severe or even just mild or moderate mental health conditions was something that needed to be said. For Erin, in an impossible situation, she was painted to be “crazy” or a “lunatic” or “losing it” etc. That her grief had made her go “out of her mind.” We know, as the Reader, that this is not the case. But we’re powerless to stop them from feeling and judging her so harshly. I think, also, when she’s trying to get help from other people who immediately dismiss her because of her intense grief, her intense depression and her just overall struggle from her mental health because her daughter freakin’ died–that commentary, that “other-ness” is such a strong stigma in place in our real life and society as a whole. It paints the very real picture that “just because it’s all in your head” it’s not valid or real or true to you etc. Or that your whole identity is that “illness”. Or that you’re somehow “wrong” and “broken.” These are disastrous ideals because we know that mental health conditions recovery is a process, a journey and there’s no one way fits all. Hope is out there. Help is available. You deserve to have nice things, to live a happy and fulfilling life and you can if you decide to still be here and choose life. Recovery is possible and we’re here for you. Sorry, side rant. Compassion, empathy and understanding can go a very long way. Validating doesn’t mean agreeing!!
  5. Another super relatable, emotional and grieving point of the book was how Erin described her feeling lost and broken after hearing the first news that no one knew where Korrie was: “In the time that followed, people kept introducing themselves… Erin fell apart and pulled herself together and fell apart again. People gave her drinks in paper cups and handed her tissues and patted her shoulder. And yet nobody managed to do the only thing that mattered: find Korrie” — (Hope, 2020, p. 89)
  6. This next scene is so horrendously and marvelously composed that I just have to share it with you all. It fits so perfectly into this story, it definitely belongs in it and the grappling of time and understanding amongst the confusion is so on point: “[Erin] dreaded the idea that she might stand where he had stood, where he had discarded what he stole. But perhaps if she were to stand there in winter before he did, she could find a way to undo what he’d done before he did it” (Hope, 2020, p. 130)       It makes so much sense, it gets us to where we need to go, it fills in the gaps and at the same time it’s almost insignificant. Truly fascinating.
  7. At one point, ending a phase of the book, Erin struggles with realizations and the questioning nature of time and its happening in a perfectly described token of: “She couldn’t understand how this had happened. Now she had no idea where she was, or rather when she was, or what to do, but she knew she had to get back, back to where she’d been” (Hope, 2020, p. 141)     To me, it felt totally wild and even MORE adversity. The adversity and the odds were truly stacked against her and her family. This book is a RIDE.
  8. There’s something so remarkable, fitting, human and true in the following scene: “(Erin to Korrie) ‘You have to keep talking. Let’s do a story.’ Korrie: ‘I don’t want to, I feel bad.’ E: ‘The trick is to keep going, no matter how you feel. That’s how it has to be.'” — (Hope, 2020, p. 217).         To me, it’s just something so striking, this scene. Erin’s fight and will to survive and thrive and do everything she can is super admirable. She doesn’t give up even when she has those moments where she considers it. Even with how much of a mess she is at times, she still fights. That’s amazing. It also again reminded me of that Switch game “Journey of the Broken Circle.” And really just life in general. (Which I can relate to very much right now with my physical health, as you get older ailments don’t seem to come individually wrapped but rather altogether to test your resolve. Bleh. 😫😭😖)
  9. What I really love about the way things ended in this book is that vague, distinct thought or phrase or almost memory that something had already happened before, something in another future, another place, that a perspective had been made and even though it came through distantly thereafter (fragmented in some cases, somewhat whole in others) it was a little glimmer of what once was even if it never became anything. I don’t know, just thinking about how these gut feelings at times or these conscious dabbling scenarios could hold so much more significance in a different time line is just fantastic eye candy to me: “As Erin stood, a feeling illuminated within her, the sense that she had the strength to take on whatever might lie ahead of her. She couldn’t know what the future was, but she knew she could rise to meet it” — (Hope, 2020, p. 255).    Again, I just thought it fit so well with the ground covered in this story and then was also just so mind-boggling, fantastic peeks into detail and yeah. A memory of what once was even though it never came to be.

THOUGHTS OR IDEAS I HAD WHILE READING:

  • Legit, I have no context to understand this now but early on in the book there was a scene that reminded me of this really great horror movie I watched on Netflix, I’m gonna pull up the name here: “Before I Wake” (2016) Something about how the story line in that movie went and how it’s relatable and similar to this particular story, I’m thinking specifically how the mother in the movie kinda uses her foster kid to purposefully see these tangible rehashed memories of her first son (who died) and how in this novel there’s that tangible aspect first going back in the past (so that Erin was back when Korrie was still alive and how she related and touched and could feel the very realness of the bedroom around her, in such stark contrast to her present day time line) and just… yeah. I don’t know if I explained that right or if it even fits here now having gone through the story but I think that’s what I was thinking of. That just holding on to what once was even though it’s no more (or wasn’t for a while). 😊
  • Shout-out to any other cardiophiles out there: this book has a pretty good plethora for them in case you’d like to read it and also be in for a great story! 😁🧡🧡
  • The way Erin reaches out to the next person she can think of that holds power in the situation to help alter or change the line of events that the first three quarters of the book presents, and that she’s told she can’t be helped and that there’s something wrong with her and just overall abandons her…. yeah, that reminded me of Luna a lot.
  • Hah! I did think of “This Would Be the End” fic at one point! Hah, I knew it!
  • Probably one of the coolest things about this book was seeing the way I write Loki in my fanfics being mirrored back to me. Like, I could so relate to what the author was conveying and the depth of which she did (though not completely, I may add) and the ANGST involved and the pain and grief and also see how I’ve achieved or already done and am continuing to do similar themes and cases of writing within my own fics. That’s cool. That’s nice. So, it works? Hahaha
  • I do love that the betrayal we witness in the majority of the time line DOES get brought up and addressed and it’s SO cathartic to hear Zac’s POV of it (the book is all written in third person regardless)
  • Calling time mischievous reminded me so much of Loki. I wonder how Loki and the TVA described and told a story with that (time, memory)… Maybe one day I’ll actually catch up with all of the MCU… We can dream, right?
  • It’s funny, there’s a green page flag where I wrote possible scenarios (three of them) of what would happen later in the book annnnnnnd none of them occurred. Ahaha, the ending/the conclusion was truly a surprise!!
  • There was a scene in this book, maybe because I had already been thinking of it in some videos I filmed prior, but Erin describes the old mill building and how it’s “derelict and shoved against the rock of the mountain” (Hope, 2020, p. 139) and it reminded me so much of another book I read called “Ash” Though I don’t remember the author or if I even have the review of that published online. 😗🤨
  • There were some great glimpses of thoughts, peeks into consciousness and thoughts the characters were having mixed in with their assessment of the world around them that I really, really liked. It made it more tangible and real to me, I think. Also reminded me again of my fics
  • For some reason, I thought the zip ties were white….. They were black.
  • It’s funny because towards the end of the book when there’s some medical scenes, I realized why it was so familiar, it’s because I had done similar types of scenes in my D&D fic haha So that was nice to see that research in someone else’s head!
  • There’s this really neat part of the story where Erin is thinking about how she’s going to explain the things she has done and how in the world she was going to convince anyone else that they had happened, this list of an outcome from multiple time lines–is just a nice reminder of how I write in my fics when I haven’t written in them in ages and I have to get a better picture and grasp again on the character and where they’re at with things hahaha (So, like often I’ll write a few sentences on Loki’s history laid out in the movies because I need to remember who I’m working with! Haha)

**At the end of the novel, our author shares that she read a particular book to help her understand and explain loop quantum gravity and it’s definitely something I also want to read and check out, here it is: “The Order of Time” by Carlo Rovelli


CRITICAL AND QUESTIONING CORNER:

More of a questioning corner but there was a point in time of me reading the book where I thought the power behind the time stones would prove too great and the money-hungry gaslighter would try to get involved and Zac would have to destroy the stones in some manner for the good of all mankind. Didn’t shape up like that though but hey, maybe a fanfic idea? 😉😛 I think that also makes sense why it never is quite panned out like that because when time does that weird thing it does and snips out certain details and changes others, then what the book ends with that Zac studies isn’t the same as what he began with. So, there’s that.

Another Questioning Corner thing: I was very, very surprised to learn that, at least never completely written in whichever time line or any time line, that Aidon didn’t sexually assault Korrie. That, to me, was something I was expecting but there’s never the autopsy that pointed to that and such. But just the way he would describe Korrie and kids in general… Eh, I’m not convinced he didn’t try at one point of a time line.

Critical Corner! Maybe just a statement but I feel like with the detective’s story line that the guy is just WAY too hard on himself. We find out some understanding of this later in the book but the dude is just mega struggling and has a lot of cop PTSD and is just so, so unhealthy in terms of how he handles his cases in the sense that he’s not taking care of himself and beating himself up for things he couldn’t really control or had very little power or play in. It’s sad to see. And it’s also sad to see the stigma that he notices from his peer cops when they treat him differently and ostracize him. Also, it sounded more like mini heart attacks than PTSD/anxiety attacks but maybe that’s just me.

Critical Corner but it’s more of another commentary piece I don’t know where else to put: Aidon is SO dislikable. The dude is so narcissistic and arrogant and pompous and says a lot of fucks and just ugh. He is SO unsavory. He has SO MUCH audacity and just, no. No. *shudders* Brava though for Hope to pull this off. It really sounds like a different character/person/identity set different and apart from all the other characters. Nicely done.

Questioning Corner: I wonder if the question of time erasing itself, of the universe unfolding in a way that couldn’t be anticipated, I wonder if that being brought up explains why things were so different in the later time line. I honestly don’t know but it’s an itch in my mind I can’t scratch. From my understanding, everything in the adjusted time line had changed even what the original feedback had been before, the original carry out of events, so time corrected itself in that instance because it didn’t leave any room to be born again in the same way it was at that juncture. Hmmm.

Critical Corner: I don’t know this for FACT, but I found it odd that the EMTs would ASK Erin whether there was any neck or back trauma to guide them whether or not to give Korrie a brace and not just put one on themselves. Like, normally in shows we always see them just go do it just in case and it was odd to me that they’d ask her rather than just go with their gut and do it. But I guess…


MY EXPERIENCE: WHAT KEPT ME READING AND THE BOOK’S IMPACT ON ME:

I’d say for this section, the best thing I cannot harp on enough is the fabulous, dedicated and highly descriptive language and portrayal of this story through the author’s eyes and fingers, as it were. She takes you on a mystical ride, deeply colorful arrays of the science that can sometimes be too science-y but still breathtakingly understandable when explained a little further. Like, to me, she just rocked it. I found words I didn’t know and feelings I hadn’t come by in a while. It was a great type of distraction read for me too, because sometimes I went to it when I was feeling ill physically and mentally. Just being lost in someone else’s story for a while and to see all the triumph after so much hardship was genuinely inspiring. If her writing was this good and she continued on for another 100 pages, I don’t think I would have minded that at all–it wouldn’t have been a chore.

Another great thing I want to highlight about this book is that hidden clique experience where as the Reader we know far more what is happening, we have that inside scoop and a look into all the characters involved and there’s just something so magical and captivating about that. I know it’s run for the mill, par for the course, but it’s still nice to know certain things, even when the main characters don’t and we’re yelling at them to listen to us! Hahha, it just makes it more real, you know?

I’m personally experiencing a lot of physical pain right now but really want this post to go up before I get checked out so I just wanted to say, thanks so much for reading this post! It’s a truly beautiful story and I hope it sticks with me. I think parts of it will for sure. My next fic book I’ve decided will enter another time travel one so I’m excited about that and to learn more about these things… maybe I’ll understand them one day and carry them through further into my own writing haha.

Well, thanks so much for everything. Again, I hope Erin’s wit and her charm and her perseverance are something I remember from this book. And the strange ways the universe works and the fascination of the human memory and mind. Thanks again. See you all soon. xxx


My next book is….

“Why Don’t You Write My Eulogy Now So I Can Correct It?” (nonfic); “Hazards of Time Travel” (fic), then when I finish WDYW, which I will it’s less than 100 pages with illustrations–I’ll begin (as of the current plan) “The Audacity to Be Queen” (nonfic)

*Next upcoming BES is for a nonfic I read called QI.


TRACKING DATES I READ THIS BOOK:

6/28/2021 early evening, 6/29 late afternoon, 7/29 late evening, 7/30 mid-evening, 7/31 evening, 8/10 mid-evening, 8/11 early morning and early evening, 8/12 early evening, 8/13 mid-evening, evening, 8/14 late morning, noon, early afternoon.

TRACKING DATES I WROTE THIS POST:

8/14/2021 (early evening, evening, late evening).

Just a Temporary Post

Hi hi!

Besides being sweaty right now and feeling far too hot, I’m doing rather well! I have to go brush my teeth because I just ate some mini Heath bars and they are soooo sugary, gwah!!

I’m jumping on here just to make a super quick, fast post and then I’m gonna challenge myself to take just 20 mins to read a book, my current graphic novel I’m calling IYF because that’s the abbreviations of its name, and then I’m going to go to bed and fall asleep. I’ll probably have to take a melatonin to help with sleep because I didn’t last night and didn’t fall asleep until 1a!! 😱😨 I napped for only an hour or so today which, hell, I’ll take.

Gah, so hot. Tomorrow I really want to spend some time blogging a more standard post, edit a couple of videos, upload a video and film one for what will later be released next Tuesday. I also want to read for a couple of hours or at least one and shave my legs and take another shower. I also want to do the dishes as a chore and maybe go out and shop a little tiny bit. I also want to continue to answer my social media and phone texting messages, as that’s important to me and either engage in some adult coloring, creative writing fanfics version or even some work based creative writing and preparing for the weekend ahead with work. (Leadership, leading routine and things to that effect)

I am taking up a morning shift on Wed next week so that should be interesting. It’ll only be two kids plus it’s a school day so it shouldn’t be too bad and if anything probably uneventful. It will be interesting to see how it’s run (first shift) on a school day and I’ll get to work with someone I’ve only met before in trainings so that’s nice.

But yeah, my dating friend is back home now and we spoke today so that was lovely! I also watched Station 19 and Grey’s Anatomy tonight, hooray. Well, I should go. I need a fan like DESPERATELY. Ahaha I got like EIGHT bug bites last night when I forgo my shirt sooooo that was FUN to wake up to this morning, haaah, not.

Any who, I hope you guys are well. I will be shutting down my laptop for the day and getting on top of a few other things soon after.

May we all sleep well and keep on creating and making fun things that this life has to offer!

Stay safe!!

xxx

💜💚💛