This delightful, heart-warming, brilliantly constructed novel revolves and deepens around a diverse group of people who all encounter the same fictional novel, Theo, within the novel. It opens with the author, Alice, whose writing talent finally finds purchase in her inspiration imagining a small boy Theo growing up in a house with a tough father. Each chapter of Bauermeister’s book then unfurls around nine diverse people’s interaction with the book, with the book speaking to each based a formative place where they find themselves in their lives. As each story gets told, we get a further reveal of the plot of Theo.
Each story has a powerful arch: from a free diver hitting the limits of his endurance to a high schooler trying to hide her homelessness and lack of parents. There’s an artist struggling to express herself to a bookseller who unexpectedly stumbles upon love to a disabled actor who regains acting through becoming an audio book narrator. Each character emerges changed or transformed from their interaction with the fictional novel, in ways that leave you buzzing inside with happiness for them and with a resounding faith in the power of novels to impart wisdom to our lives.
Thanks to St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for an advanced reader’s copy.