Of Things Gone Astray by Janina Matthewson

 

I love an offbeat read full of magical realism, and Of Things Gone Astray is exactly that. It reads along at a fast clip, with the focus alternating among its characters. For a good portion of the book I found myself wishing each character’s story was placed together, more like interconnected short stories — only because each one was so compelling I didn’t want to change course, even momentarily. But by the end, I could clearly see how Matthewson gently wove them together. The way she crafted this novel was absolutely perfect.

Many of the characters’ losses (and the aftermath of those losses) are spectacularly bizarre. Others are surprisingly realistic, with fantastical double meanings lying beneath the surface. I enjoyed that playfulness, as well as the truths infused throughout.

“Maeve was one of the many who, despite the evidence, didn’t truly believe that Cassie’s transformation would ever be complete. She couldn’t imagine it happening, even though it was, and right in front of her eyes.” (p. 247)

These characters prompt us to explore questions such as: How do we resist change? How do we deal with it? Accept it? When should we accept it, and when should we fight to hold on to what is slipping away? Which people and things keep us tethered when we need it most, when we are the ones in danger of being lost?

And what a great ending! Very satisfying.