Review: Relativity by Cristin Bishara

Cristin Bishara
Walker Childrens
Publication Date: September 10, 2013

From the back cover:

If Ruby Wright could have her way, her dad would never have met and married her stepmother Willow, her best friend George would be more than a friend, and her mom would still be alive. Ruby knows wishes can’t come true; some things just can’t be undone. Then she discovers a tree in the middle of an Ohio cornfield with a wormhole to nine alternative realities.

Suddenly, Ruby can access completely different realities, each containing variations of her life—if things had gone differently at key moments. The windshield wiper missing her mother’s throat…her big brother surviving his ill-fated birth…her father never having met Willow. Her ideal world—one with everything and everyone she wants most—could be within reach. But is there such a thing as a perfect world? What is Ruby willing to give up to find out?

I’ve always been interested in the concept of wormholes and alternate realities, which is what drew me to RELATIVITY in the first place. The idea of Ruby finding a wormhole in a tree in the middle of an Ohio cornfield (which is just about as mundane a place to put a wormhole with the power to change the future!) is so creative and once I started this book, I couldn’t put it down.

I loved that Cristin Bishara made Ruby a complete math geek. Let’s face it, embracing one’s geekiness is an uncommon characteristic in a YA heroine, and although it can also make Ruby a bit hard to relate to at times, the fact that she is so happy in her own skin made for a very strong, interesting character.  The other thing Ms. Bishara does so well is the world-building. The history of the wormhole, the rules for traveling through it, the tiny little threads that run through the book — all are seamless and well written.

The weak spots in this book, for me, come from the fact that there is so much going on that it becomes difficult to really connect with Ruby and the choices she makes. And while I understand this comes from the limitations of page count and format, I would have loved for Ruby to spend more time in each of the alternate universes to bring more depth to her character and her internal conflict. I also would have loved to see George as a bigger part of the book. He is such a huge part of Ruby’s life, and yet, his role almost feels more like an after thought. I also felt a bit let-down at the way the book ended. It wrapped up far too nice and neatly, with no real explanation of how Ruby’s experience changed her. The remaining chapters would have been better spent focusing on her appreciation for what she has with her dad, Willow, George and yes, even her step-sister Kandy, then showing attitude with her therapist.

However, the premise of RELATIVITY still remains genius. We’ve all wondered how our life would be different if we’d made different choices. RELATIVITY explores that idea with a unique twist, and makes us realize that while we may never have a perfect world, sometimes the imperfect one is even sweeter.



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