She, Myself and I by Emma Young
|She, Myself and I by Emma Young|
|Reviewer: Jill Murphy|
|Summary: A thoughtful novel exploring what it would be like to have one's brain transplanted into another body. Which self is the true self?|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 352||Date: March 2018|
|External links: Author's website|
Rosa is just eighteen. You'd expect her to be off to university, or going on a gap year, or about to start an apprenticeship, wouldn't you? You'd expect her life to be full of possibilities and exciting new horizons. But this is not the case for Rosa. Diagnosed with a rare and incurable neural condition when she was just ten years old, Rosa is confronting mortality. This disease will kill her, and soon...
... unless she goes ahead with a revolutionary new surgery. A doctor from Boston believes he has reached a point where brain transplantation is possible. And there is a candidate donor - Sylvie, who fell into a lake and drowned and is now in a persistent vegetative state. Sylvie's parents have agreed to donate her body and Rosa is the proposed trial patient. Rosa's family desperately want her to say yes and escape her terminal diagnosis. And Rosa, obviously, wants to live too. But how will it feel to inhabit an entirely new body? Will something of Sylvie remain?
The surgery goes ahead. It's successful. And, after months of rehabilitation, Rosa is beginning to feel like a person again. But nothing is that easy. Rosa meets a boy outside in the hospital grounds and there is an instant attraction. But Joe is a journalist. Does he know? What about the strange man hanging about who is showing a specific in Rosa. Does he know, too? Who is he? And what are these strange, hallucinatory feelings that Rosa keeps having? Are they evidence that Sylvie is still around, in some supernatural way?
She, Myself and I concerns itself with identity. Adolescence is a vital period of identity formation in the best of times, so you can imagine what it is like for Rosa, who worries that she is some kind of real life Frankenstein. She obsesses over Sylvie, the girl who drowned and whose body Rosa now inhabits. And this leads her to some risky behaviour as she tries to track down and understand the kind of girl that Sylvie was. The girl who spent so many formative years as an invalid experiences a first flush of romance with a boy and this also leads her to some risky - but entirely understandable! - behaviour.
Emma Young does a nice job of exploring all this, while weaving in some discussion of how we treat others on the basis of appearance, whether or not bodies and souls are divisible, what we know so far about the experiences of transplant patients, and the ethics of drastic surgical interventions. There is a great deal for readers to think about here. But the narrative itself is engaging and easy to read - the themes are heavy but the style is relatively light. And the budding romance between Rosa and Joe is as much of a teenage coming-of-age story as any other. Everybody can fall in love.
She, Myself and I is a thoughtful and engaging story and I enjoyed it.
If it's the memories and consciousness aspect of She, Myself and I that most interests you, try The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E Pearson or Skinned by Robin Wasserman, both quite challenging reads.
You can read more book reviews or buy She, Myself and I by Emma Young at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy She, Myself and I by Emma Young at Amazon.com.
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