In one impulsive moment the summer before they leave for college, overachievers Scarlett and David plunge into an irresistible swirl of romance, particle physics, and questionable decisions.
Scarlett and David have known each other all their lives in small-town Graceville, Colorado, where David is just another mountain in the background, until, one day, he is suddenly so much more than part of the landscape. Magnetic, spontaneous, David is a gravitational force. And Scarlett, pragmatic, wry, eye on the future, welcomes the whirlwind he brings even as she resists it.
Moving between the present and the past, this is the story of a seemingly grounded girl who’s pulled into a lightning-strike romance with an electric-charged boy, and the enormity of the aftermath. Smart, bold, and unconventionally romantic, Shana Youngdahl’s debut explores grief, guilt, and reconciling who you think you need to be with the person you’ve been all along. It’s an aching, transporting reminder that between the past that shapes us and the unknowable future, we have only the present to forgive ourselves and forge ahead.
before i begin, know that it is so, so hard to talk about AS MANY NOWS AS I CAN GET without spoilers because no detail doesn’t hint at a bigger one and a bigger one, but i shall try! valiantly! to talk about it spoiler-free anyway.
I absolutely LOVE non-linear storytelling, but not every author can pull it off. To get a sense of how picky I am, know that I adore VE Schwab’s VICIOUS but thought that the structure of VENGEFUL was disappointing and did not go well for me. Picky! Unpopular opinion! I know. Please don’t throw tomatoes at me I’m fragile.
And yet, pickiness considered, I believe that Shana Youngdahl pulled off the non-linear structure …. perfectly.
The non-linear storyline works so well because Scarlett choses which parts to highlight first while always keeping a reference event in mind, so the reader is never lost and each chapter can flip around as many times as it could like without losing the reader. Which is an insanely hard and insanely smart thing to do. It also gives the story a more organic feel. since rarely does anyone follow a strict chronology when speaking or telling a story to a friend. This gives the voice a natural, friendly shade because it’s basically Scarlett narrating DIRECTLY to us.
Additionally, the exploration of how even the simplest of things have enormous consequences, especially when they’re set in precarious time periods like, in Scarlett and David’s case, before they leave their tiny town to go off to college, is sensitively addressed and delved deep into. Again, I’ll keep this vague because it’s so hard to talk about this book without spoilers, but I will say that that reference scene that I mentioned earlier involves a semi-sky-diving-ish jump, which is a very very apt metaphor for, really, this whole book.
“If you really boiled it down, I thought, life is discovery, love, and loss. The magic that moves us. The choices we make, sometimes impulsively, that pave our way through the world.”
I’ve also made a playlist for AS MANY NOWS AS I CAN GET, which you should totally check out below.
Shana Youngdahl is a poet and author who teaches writing at the University of Maine at Farmington and directs the Longfellow Young Writers’ Workshop. One of her greatest joys is helping people embrace the stories they need to tell. Shana lives with her husband, two daughters, and two cats in Maine. As Many Nows as I Can Get is her debut novel.
August 19 – Just Add a Word – Review + Playlist
August 20 – Evil Queen Books – Moodboard + Review
August 21 – NovelKnight Book Reviews – Author Guest Post: What are the benefits and struggles of creating a character-reader connection with a non-linear timeline? In other words, what is the process of writing characters that readers can become invested in while also alternating through the past and present?
August 22 – So She Tries – Creative Instagram Picture
August 23 – Thrifty Bibliophile – Playlist
August 26 – The Geeky Yogi – Creative Instagram Picture + Review
August 27 – Two Points of Interest – Review
August 28 – Wishful Endings – Moodboard + Instagram Picture