If Ruby Wright could have her way, her dad would never have met and married her stepmother Willow, her best friend George would be more than a friend, and her mom would still be alive. Ruby knows wishes can’t come true; some things just can’t be undone. Then she discovers a tree in the middle of an Ohio cornfield with a wormhole to nine alternative realities.
Suddenly, Ruby can access completely different realities, each containing variations of her life—if things had gone differently at key moments. The windshield wiper missing her mother’s throat…her big brother surviving his ill-fated birth…her father never having met Willow. Her ideal world—one with everything and everyone she wants most—could be within reach. But is there such a thing as a perfect world? What is Ruby willing to give up to find out?
Perfection. It’s unattainable, wherever you go, whatever you do. And in Cristin Bishara’s Relativity, that truth becomes painfully real as Ruby travels through different parallel universes, on her own search for the perfect world. If there was one thing I took home from this book, it’s that perfection is impossible, no matter how much mankind craves it. But that’s not supposed to be discouraging.: Imperfections help make you a better person, and as hard as it is to imagine, I think it is what helps us through life.
Summary: After her mom’s death, Ruby and her father have never been the same, but it’s only twelve years later that her dad decides to remarry, and Ruby’s life is plunged into further bleakness. With the new marriage comes a move from her well-loved home in California, to boring old Ennis in Ohio. To top things off, Kandy, her new stepsister, seems to have it out for her. Then she discovers a wormhole in an ancient oak behind her house that enables her to travel through different parallel universes, and in each universe, things have turned out differently. Could this be the key to the perfect world she’s been searching for all these years? Is this her chance to set things right again?
I didn’t have very high opinions of the book at first. Apart from failing to truly grasp my attention within the first couple of pages, I didn’t find Ruby a particularly likable — or realistic — character. That’s not to say that she’s got a horrible personality, or that she’s annoying, because she’s not (not most of the time, anyway). I felt that her personality was too superficial — she’s a science nerd, sure, and I guess her obsession with physics and string theory showed that, but I didn’t really find any of it believable. It was like her interests only existed on the surface, and not much deeper.
As for the other characters, I can’t say that I was very impressed either. Kandy, Ruby’s stepsister, was another shallow character. Irrationally violent, and seeming to have it out for Ruby, the reason Bishara gave near the end for her behavior was flimsy and unbelievable. Also, the fact that Ruby let her stepsister harass her like that didn’t help me like her more. I was also hoping for more characterization — since this is a book about parallel worlds, and characterization is important so that the reader doesn’t get mixed up — from the others, but alas. Ruby’s father, Willow, George, Patrick, Mom — all of them lacked depth and persona. They were your average Joes, with nothing at all to make them memorable.
Another thing that bugged me immensely was the amateurish writing, which more often than not, seeped into the characters’ actions themselves. For example, Kandy had a sign outside her door that said “GET LOST, GO AWAY, DIE,” and unless I’m an old woman in a sixteen-year-old’s body, I’m pretty sure we don’t do that anymore. I mean, the urge to decorate your room door with stickers and signs probably faded away when you were thirteen, right? So I found this incredibly immature, especially since Kandy’s supposed to be this tough-ass girl who beats people up
for no reason. The dialogue, too, was oftentimes jerky and unrealistic, a bit like something out of a bad movie script.
Plot-wise, though, Relativity made up somewhat for the mundane characters. Knowing me, the main reason why I was so interested in this book was because of the parallel universes, and the story did meet those expectations. I would have appreciated a little more explanations concerning the oak tree that enabled Ruby to travel to different parallel worlds, but I was still pretty satisfied.
Overall, while definitely disappointing on a whole, Cristin Bishara still managed to pull me in and keep me reading until the end. There’s no denying that she knows her stuff, and I loved the message she sent across with Relativity. Perfection doesn’t exist. Science proves that. But we can still make the most of our lives, because it all depends on the choice we make, and which path we choose to follow.
Who is this book for?
If you have a strange, almost borderline obsessive infatuation with parallel universes (like moi), and if you don’t mind the lack of characterization in books, then you’ll probably like Relativity.