Garrett Adams is a behaviorist, a college professor whose life consists of operant conditioning of rats and occasional nights of drinking with his old college buddy Jerry, a Freudian. It is the Sixties and he is so outside the flow of life he did not know The Beatles. That is until the day he is intrigued by a book about Schrodinger’s Cat at the bookstore. He picks up a copy and on a whim decides to ask the first person to also pick up the book to lunch. That was Daphne, a fifteen-year-old girl who is too eager to grow up and who makes a pass at Garrett. Feeling avuncular, he gets her to promise to hold off on propositioning older men for a few weeks until they can have another lunch. They continue to meet and she educates him on The Beatles, the Vietnam War, and art.
Except it’s not just the first Daphne. He keeps meeting more Daphnes, all identical in appearance, all of whom remember their first meeting at the bookstore, but all of whom have very different lives from the first Daphne. He thinks of Daphne as The Schrödinger Girl.
Meanwhile, Garrett pursues a relationship with Caroline, someone much closer to his age. They are inching towards love, but Caroline has no space for Daphne and thinks Garrett’s idea that they are multiple versions of the same young woman splitting into different lives is either crazy or an unhealthy obsession at best. But Garrett knows he is not crazy, can he let the Daphne question go unanswered?
The Schrödinger Girl has an original concept and is well-written. I like that even though the focus of the book is Garrett and everything is from his point of view, the Daphnes and Caroline are strong women. In fact, they influence him greatly and Garrett at the end is a very different man from Garrett at the beginning. They change as well, and their stories make sense even if their existence does not.
I enjoyed The Schrödinger Girl and found the underlying idea intriguing but confess it was too easy to set aside. I kept picking up other books to read. I think it was because for much of the book Garrett was sort of drifting through life and not as interesting as he became later. The last quarter I read in one fell swoop, but the first three-quarters I dallied through slowly, a bit impatient with Garrett. I almost gave up on it, but I am glad I did not because I loved it at the end.
I received an ARC of The Schrödinger Girl from the publisher through LibraryThing