Friday, May 3, 2019

Book Review: "Me Myself & Him" by Chris Tebbetts

The tagline for this book says it best: "One broken nose. Two versions of the same story. Infinite possibilities."

It's the summer before college, before Chris and his two best friends, Wexler and Anna, all go their separate ways to different schools. One night, while doing a hit of whippets outside the restaurant where he works, Chris passes out face-first, breaking his nose. When his estranged father, a famous physicist in California, hears what Chris did, he demands that Chris come and live with him for the summer and work at his lab—or he won't pay for him to go to the college of his choice.

The thought of having to leave his friends during the last few months they'll spend together, and live with a father he still resents for leaving, is utterly unappealing. But Chris doesn't seem to see any alternative—the college he wants to attend has a great film program and it's his ticket out of small-town Ohio. As he begins to sense a newfound chemistry between Wexler and Anna that will leave him behind, he heads to California, unsure of how the summer will go in all aspects.

But in another timeline, Chris hides the truth of what happened from his parents, just telling them he fell. He gets to keep his job and stay home for the summer, but he's not sure how to handle Anna and Wexler suddenly becoming a couple, leaving him and his sparse romantic prospects even more depressing. He knows he'll never find a boyfriend in his small Ohio town, and why bother when he's about to leave? However, little by little the summer starts to fall apart, as the truth about his accident starts to get revealed and his relationship with his friends becomes strained. Chris wonders if there's another version of him somewhere else, living a better life.

The chapters in Me Myself & Him alternate between Chris' "real" story as he spends the summer in California and deals with his father, and the "other" version in which he stays in Ohio and no one is the wiser about what happened (not really). This is a fascinating, poignant, thought-provoking book which meshes familial dysfunction, the fear of growing apart from your friends, and wanting to be loved for who you are with musings on alternate realities, religion, and fate.

I really enjoyed this book and thought Chris Tebbetts did a great job laying out the story and the alternate path Chris' life could have taken. Even though he's a bit misanthropic, I really identified with so many of his feelings, with wanting things to change but also wanting them to stay exactly the same, wanting your friends to be happy but not wanting your relationships to change, and just wanting someone to be with, all while trying to figure out who you are.

I think of this as the gay, not-quite-stoner version of Sliding Doors. It's utterly entertaining and a really enjoyable read.

NetGalley, Random House Children's, and Delacorte Press provided me an advance copy of this book in exchange for an unbiased review. Thanks for making it available!

This book will be published July 9, 2019.

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