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Find Me by Laura van den Berg
Sci-fi

Find Me

by Laura van den Berg

Excellent choice

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Quick take

The beauty of Find Me is that it breaks the stereotypical mold of the genre, focusing on the relationships of those surviving rather than larger global consequences. Laura van den Berg's prose swept me away.

Why I love it

It begins with memory loss, ending traumatically with death. A sickness devastates the country, decimating the population. In a hospital in rural Kansas, a rare group of individuals with immunity are gathered for study and observation behind locked doors. Joy is one of these "lucky" people…

That world, seen through Joy's perspective, is a mystery—to both us and to her. The extent of the disease, and how devastated the country's inhabitants are, are glimpsed in snatches of internet searches and TV programs. In the vein of other journey-centered, post-apocalyptic novels, like Station Eleven or The Road, the universe of Find Me is revealed as Joy breaks free from the hospital and sets out on a journey across the country to find the mother who abandoned her as a baby.

Split into two distinct parts—Joy's time in the hospital and her trip from Kansas to Florida—the unifying theme is memory and identity. The disease, which wipes out memories, and Joy's fixation with her own recollections, anchor the narrative arc. Part one focuses on Joy's distancing of her own traumatic past, while part two is her emotional journey coming to terms with that past and its place in her own individuality.

The beauty of Find Me is that it breaks the stereotypical mold of the genre, focusing on the relationships of those surviving rather than larger global consequences. Laura van den Berg's prose swept me away into Joy's reflections and, while she asks more questions than she answers, van den Berg has created a world full of characters and situations that have no parallel. Her effort can be polarizing—the two halves at times feel disjointed—but trusting in van den Berg's vision is worth the gamble.

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