If, Then takes place on a quiet street in a small Oregon town shelter in the shadow of a dormant volcano called Broken Mountain. We get to know three of the families living there as they go about their lives. There are Ginny and Mark and their son Noah. There are Samara and her father both mourning her mother who recently died. There is Cass with her newborn daughter, her husband Amar off on a research vessel while she feels the loss of her own career. Ginny, Mark, Samara, and Cass all see alternate versions of their lives. Samara sees her mother still alive, Cass sees a pregnant Cass, Ginny sees herself with Edith, a colleague, instead of her husband Mark, and Mark sees a sort of Mountain Mark who scares him.
Not only are they seeing things, but they are not telling anyone, keeping their confusion and anxiety to themselves. Nonetheless, this sparks a crisis for all of them which leads to them making important decisions about what kind of reality they want.
I liked Kate Hope Day’s If, Then very much. In many ways, it is a quiet story about people making choices about their lives. Should I live here or there? Should I go back to school? Should I leave my husband? Nonetheless, Day infuses their stories with urgency so that readers have to keep reading. The sense of place is compelling, and Day draws on all the senses to reify the environment which plays a critical role in the story. The story is peopled with characters who are likable and complex enough to intrigue us, leaving readers uncertain what choices they may make. This all adds up to an excellent book well worth reading.
If, Then will be published on March 12th, I received a copy from the publisher through Shelf Awareness.