Title: Me, Myself & Him
Author: Chris Tebbetts
Publisher: Delacorte Press, 2019
Themes: lgbtqia+, divorce, alternative timeline, gay, fate, religion, parallel universe, humor, identity, adventure, friendship, lies, #ownvoices
The last thing I remember is sucking down a lungful of gas and closing my eyes. My friend Wexler tells me that I set down the cartridge, stood up again, paused like I wasn’t going anywhere, and then fell over, almost slow motion, like a tree going down, until I landed face first on the cement.
When Chris Schweitzer takes a hit of whippets and passes out face first on the cement, his nose isn’t the only thing that changes forever. Instead of staying home with his friends for the last summer after high school, he’s shipped off to live with his famous physicist but royal jerk of a father to prove he can “play by the rules” before Dad will pay for college.
Or . . . not.
In an alternate time line, Chris’s parents remain blissfully ignorant about the accident, and life at home goes back to normal–until it doesn’t. A new spark between his two best (straight) friends quickly turns Chris into a (gay) third wheel, and even worse, the truth about the whippets incident starts to unravel. As his summer explodes into a million messy pieces, Chris wonders how else things might have gone. Is it possible to be jealous of another version of yourself in an alternate reality that doesn’t even exist? (publisher)
Why I like this book:
This novel is weird in all good ways. It tells a s story of parallel/alternate time lines where the author explores how our choices/lies can change our outcomes but not truly who we are. I was intrigued by the concept of parallel universes branching off from each other based on the decisions we make. A whatif scenario for teens. I was fascinated how Tebbetts chooses to let the reader create the physical characteristics of the main characters (but not the minor ones), as I love weaving this into my own stories.
Once I realized there would be two timelines, I wondered if I would be as invested in both outcomes, and I totally was. Both arcs were equally plausible and fulfilling and as I work with high schoolers, I can say were spot on with the sorts of topics, shortcomings, frustrations, temptations faced by typical eighteen year-olds. Of course there’s also some cool gay romance. The author has a real knack of pairing heavier life-frustrations with a light and humorous touch, which made the pacing stellar. Chris has a clear late teens voice and I like the creative formatting of charts and concept maps to illustrate his thought processes, which made me feel like he was more like his Physics-professor dad than he wanted to be.
I am guessing most readers will be rooting more for one timeline than the other, though Chris (and the other characters) grow through both. This is a fun gay coming of age story with family drama, and a high school graduate starting to deal with adult responsibilities and expectations, growing apart from friends, finding love, and reconnecting with his father after his parents divorced. The two timelines with their subplots are cleverly woven together so that the conclusion is the same.
Having made my fair share of dumb mistakes as a teen, I could totally relate to Chris blaming his dad for his problems. But it’s about much more than a teen making lying to cover his ass. It is romance, the changing of friendships as we head toward college, and choices. A grand read.