Monday, November 9, 2015

'The Five Times I Met Myself' by James L Rubart


2015 Reading Challenge, Week 45 - A Book Set in the Future
Rather than choosing a book that takes place in a future year, I thought I'd go for this one instead, which fits the bill in a different way. This book is set in the future in that the hero gets a rare opportunity to receive advise from his future self. Whether or not it turns out to be a good thing, he does impact his future by returning to his past.

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What if you met your twenty-three year old self in a dream? What would you say?
Brock Matthews' once promising life is unraveling. His coffee company. His marriage.
So when he discovers his vivid dreams—where he encounters his younger self—might let him change his past mistakes, he jumps at the chance. The results are astonishing, but also disturbing.
Because getting what Brock wants most in the world will force him to give up the one thing he doesn't know how to let go of . . . and his greatest fear is it's already too late.

In this mind-bending novel, we not only get to witness the hero's life, but several alternative lives he might have lived, had he made different choices.

I've often thought, 'If only I got the chance to meet my younger self, there's so much I'd tell her.' I assume many of us feel the same, which is why I was eager to get stuck into this story of Brock Matthews, who got the chance to meet his younger self several times. He assumed it would be a golden opportunity to fix a few things which went haywire. However, his excellent intentions turned out to make many aspects of his life worse than they were before he started meddling with time.

At the start, Brock and his brother, Ron, are in charge of Black Fedora, the coffee company they inherited from their father. Brock is the 'face' of the company and works with the coffee blends, while Ron manages the business side and owns 51% of the shares. When a financial disaster looms, Brock wonders if there's any way he could have personally prevented it. Meanwhile, his marriage is getting shaky, as his wife, Karissa, begins to mull over their years together with dissatisfaction, and their son, Tyson, may no longer be able to attend college. That's the backdrop that makes Brock wonder if he could possibly  convince his former self to prevent the train wreck his life became.

Are any of us really wise enough to assume we can advise our younger selves what to do? That was one of the big questions I came to ask myself. Brock was certain that at the age of 52, and with the advantage of hindsight, his 24-year-old self needed to listen to him. He was urgent in his mission to change his younger self's mind about the choices he faced. Yet after all that wheedling and convincing, the advice which seemed so wise, turned out to be questionable anyway. Only God has a God's eye view of any individual's life, no matter how often we've experienced life's hard knocks. Brock, to me, is proof that we never reach an age in which we know everything.

I found it shocking, and quite scary when you think about it, that Brock's choices turned out to drastically affect not only his own life but those closest to him, especially Karissa, Tyson and Ron. We may prefer to think that each individual is ultimately responsible for himself or herself, regardless of the positive or negative influence of others, but this story shows more of a strong ripple effect. Without going as far as saying they were putty in Brock's hands, I think the influence he had over the shaping of several destinies ended up alarming him. It makes the reader think about the way we treat our own spouses, children and siblings.

I love Brock's eventual epiphanies regarding the idols he'd set up in his life, especially his personal success in the business arena. There was nothing intrinsically wrong with Black Fedora, or striving to create a good product. It was Brock's lifelong attitude that got things all twisted; one which we could so easily buy into when it comes to our own lives.

One scene I found most touching was the flashback to an event which occurred when he was only 11 years old. It set the scene for a lot of misunderstanding, but I can easily picture my own sons doing the exact same thing. Unexpected gruffness from adults can devastate kids, and it's good that this was brought out.

I'll finish with one of the decisions Brock came to make. 'The future does not exist, so I will live for now. The past is gone and cannot be retrieved, so I will live now. There is only the present.'

Thanks to Thomas Nelson and NetGalley for my review copy.

4.5 stars


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