In the novel We by Michael Landweber, published in 2013, the forty-two-year-old gay protagonist, Ben Arnold, has recently had an accident. He's experienced a bad fall, and strangely discovers that he's also fallen back in time. Inexplicably, Ben now sees his childhood self, a rail thin seven-year-old nicknamed Binky. He's somehow managed to travel back in time to his own past, to June of 1977, right before the occurrence of an awful event. Ben sees this as a chance to prevent his sister, Sara, from being raped by a group of boys, an event that shattered her life and also affected the rest of the family, his parents, Lance and Charlotte, and older brother, Charles. Given this mysterious opportunity to revisit the past, Ben hopes he can intervene and change the past, and rewrite his family's history.
We is a short title, the shortest one I can think of, but it's the perfect title for this book, as adult Ben "joins forces" with himself as a child, to form a distinct "we". It's difficult to describe this merge, but it's precisely through this bizarre yet bewitching mingled consciousness of Ben as an adult and Binky as a young boy that we learn about the Arnold family, and about his relationship with Roger, who has recently left him. Ben discovers while looking back--or while being back--that some of his beliefs about himself, his family, and others, were not as accurate as he'd thought, and he garners new insights about his life. As for Binky, with Ben's help, he does better the second time around in some respects. Notably (and a bit humorously) at school, when Binky now speaks knowledgeably and matter of factly about sex, a topic that many children are naturally interested in, he commands a new respect from his peers because of his knowledge of adult matters. His popularity is boosted in this manner.
I found this short novel (under 200 pages) to be different, exciting, and hard to put down. We is a book that I'll think about and remember for a long time. The idea of traveling back to your own past and making things better is quite fascinating, and it's well done in this deftly written novel. We is a thoroughly gripping and thought-provoking debut novel by writer Michael Landweber.
Special thanks to Lisa from TLC for sending me this book. For other reviews, please visit the other stops on TLC's blog tour for We.
Thanks for reading! As always, your comments are welcomed.