Review: AND AGAIN by Jessica Chiarella (Touchstone)

ChiarellaJ-AndAgainUSAn engrossing, beautifully written novel about what makes us who we are

Would you live your life differently if you were given a second chance? Hannah, David, Connie, and Linda — four terminally ill patients — have been selected for the SUBlife pilot program, which will grant them brand-new, genetically perfect bodies that are exact copies of their former selves — without a single imperfection. Blemishes, scars, freckles, and wrinkles have all disappeared, their fingerprints are different, their vision is impeccable, and most importantly, their illnesses have been cured.

But the fresh start they’ve been given is anything but perfect. Without their old bodies, their new physical identities have been lost. Hannah, an artistic prodigy, has to relearn how to hold a brush; David, a Congressman, grapples with his old habits; Connie, an actress whose stunning looks are restored after a protracted illness, tries to navigate an industry obsessed with physical beauty; and Linda, who spent eight years paralyzed after a car accident, now struggles to reconnect with a family that seems to have built a new life without her. As each tries to re-enter their previous lives and relationships they are faced with the question: how much of your identity rests not just in your mind, but in your heart, your body?

What would you do if you were given a second chance? Not only a second chance, but a second body — fresh, new, cloned. Completely clear of defective genes, and devoid of the scars and weathering of everyday life. This is, in part, the premise of Jessica Chiarella’s fantastic debut novel, And Again. It is also one of the first must-reads of the year. Continue reading