A friend of mine told me some time ago that I needed to read Life After Life, by Kate Atkinson, because it was about death, and life, and it had made her cry. This was at a time in my life where I had had just about enough of thinking about life and death as well as enough of crying, so I was like NO THX BYE. (This is also the reason that I haven’t, to this day, read The Fault In Our Stars and I don’t know if I will ever want to read it). Then the other day I saw it on the shelf at the library and I realized I was feeling down with it so I was like “ok, pilgrim, give it your best shot.” And yes, indeed, man oh man, Nutella on a cracker, is it ever about death. The main character, Ursula is born, lives her life, dies, and then is reborn again, lives her life, and dies, and so on for the whole book. I don’t mean that she is reincarnated each time she is born. She just starts her same life over again, in her same family, in the same time. Some of her lives are long, and some of them are very short. Depending on circumstances, choices, coincidences, each life takes a different trajectory. First I am going to tell you that if it is going to freak you out to have to know that you are going not only have to watch your main character die, not once (which can be hard enough), but like 50 times, then just don’t even. But, I am also going to contradict myself and say that at first this felt like it was going to be too much with the die, die, die again…but after a few times it stopped bothering me (because I am a monster? Perhaps).
The thing I liked best about this, (other than the fact that Atkinson totally pulls off the hard task of writing in this way, keeping all the pieces together, like a boss), was thinking about the things that made Ursula’s life different each time around, and which parts of her personality and her life (and others’) stayed fixed, and why that was. So many things were changable for her, but there were some things that weren’t.