cover image As Many Nows as I Can Get

As Many Nows as I Can Get

Shana Youngdahl. Dial, $17.99 (430p) ISBN 978-0-525-55385-4

Embracing Einstein’s theories of time, debut author Youngdahl offers a complex, compassionately written love story about a freshman college student whose past is very much a part of her present. When the novel opens, native Coloradan Scarlett’s “now” involves a cross-country road trip with college roommate Mina from their school in Maine to California. But Scarlett’s focus keeps looping backward to other “nows,” which focus on her ex-lover David, whose magnetism and increased dependence on drugs drew her to dangerous places the summer after high school graduation. Since then, her obsession with David and their shared passion has affected almost every aspect of her life, causing her to become a distraught, isolated physics student, until level-headed Mina brings Scarlett out of her shell and helps her make perhaps the most important decision of her life. Told nonchronologically and in the first person, Scarlett’s story includes many familiar yet relevant topics, including sexism, drug use, college stress, and ill-fated infatuations. If the book seems overloaded with issues, Scarlett remains a solid, convincing character—although Mina, perhaps the true hero of the story, is disappointingly underdeveloped. Yougdahl’s keen understanding of teen emotions and reactions adds credibility to her story, though, as does her interesting experimentation with structure. Ages 14–up. [em]Agent: Elizabeth Bewley, Sterling Lord Literistic. (Aug.) [/em]