Through to You
Author: Emily Hainsworth
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: October 2, 2012
Source: HarperCollins via Edelweiss
Description from Goodreads:
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 things are different 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.
First Sentence: "It's the same dream I've been having for the past two months—Viv walking away from glass and fire, her laughter echoing through the night."
Through to You is one of those books that reminds me, in case I could forget, why I love to read YA fiction. It's a genre-blending, throught-provoking, creepy, beautiful, unique book. Prepare to be surprised, confused and refreshed by a read that doesn't fall into the usual YA plot lines.
At first, Through to You comes off a straight contemporary. We join Cam mired in his grief, two months after the death of his girlfriend Viv in a car accident. He was with her, but she died and he lived. He spends his time at the memorial at the site of the accident and wallowing, doing his best to avoid any connections with anyone, be it his psychiatrist, his family or his friend Mike. He feels responsible for Viv's death, and has little interest in his own life. His only real goal at this point his keeping his depression hidden enough that he won't be put on pills that might make him forget her.
Viv and Cam used to be the power couple, the star quarterback and the gorgeous cheerleader. Two years before, though, he hurt his leg in an accident and couldn't recover well enough for football. She quit cheerleading to spend more time with him. Their friends, caught up in the social activities, almost all abandoned them. They built their lives around one another. Now, with Viv gone, Cam's grief is tangible. I could feel his ache for her.
One of the most impressive things about Through to You is the authenticity of Camden's voice. He felt one hundred percent like a male to me. Writing a book from the perspective of a character with a different gender than one's own is tricky, but Hainsworth has pulled it off beautifully. The first person narration fit the story perfectly, and I really just loved Hainsworth's writing style.
The novel takes a science fiction/fantasy turn when he sees what he thinks is a ghost. Nina turns out to be a girl from an alternate universe, one where Viv still lives. What an impressive concept! If you were mired in grief, separated forever from the person you love, what would you do to get them back again? Would you leave your universe for another? The why of the situation never gets explained, but this wasn't the kind of book where that bothered me at all. The curiosity of why its happening is part of the fun.
From a philosophical perspective, I could not get enough of the alternate universe stuff. The people are the same physically, and many of their circumstances are identical. However, are they truly the same? How much can two counterparts differ? The characterization is almost entirely stunning. I say almost because I'm not entirely sure about Viv. It might have been helpful to get to see something of Viv and Cam's relationship before her death. Without it, I had no sense of who she'd really been as a person, so I had no real idea how to feel about her counterpart.
Emily Hainsworth packs a lot of emotion into this relatively brief novel. If you enjoyed C. K. Kelly Martin's My Beating Teenage Heart or Amy Garvey's Cold Kiss, get your hands on this book stat. Through to You alternately wowed me with its gorgeous prose and frightened me with its eeriness.
Favorite Quote: "My house is empty. I wander through the rooms, unsure of where I want to be until I realize I don't want to be anywhere. Every room has a hole in it—where a chair was, a stereo, a set of books, a closet of clothes. Mom never filled them in after Dad left, and I guess I didn't care. But since the accident, all I can see are the holes in things."