The Book of Someday opens up with a chilling glimpse into a lonely little girl’s nightmarish existence. From there, the reader moves to strong-willed, no-nonsense Micah and a crushing diagnosis that changes everything. Lastly, AnnaLee enters the picture as a loving wife and doting mother struggling to stay upbeat about the disappointing provider her husband is turning out to be. These three very different women lead distinctly different lives but their stories twist and converge in a poignant conclusion.
Of the three women, AnnaLee is by far the most sympathetic and enjoyable. Her love of her husband and conflicts between that love and her frustrations about his lack of ambition create a lovely little struggle within her and force her to show her determination. Compared to her, Micah is a cold-hearted bitch without a genuine bone in her body other than the one that guides her self-interest. Even though the two women are distinctly different, their contrasts play off of each other perfectly, creating a vibrant dynamic within the book.
In comparison, one finds it difficult to enjoy Livvi’s story as much as either of the other two ladies’ narratives. On the one hand, Livvi’s difficult childhood – the psychological abuse at the hands of her stepmother, her isolation, her lack of affection and love – create a character with whom it is easy to sympathize. On the other hand, any sympathy one feels for her dissipates in light of her ongoing hot-and-cold relationship with a married man. Her excuses to her friends as well as to herself fail to ring true after a while, and the entire drama-filled relationship loses its impact the longer it takes her to walk away from a man who will never leave his wife.
Then there is the inexplicable bond between Livvi and Bella. While one can reconcile her strong feelings for the little girl based on her love-starved childhood, the either-or aspect of their relationship – the idea that it would be impossible for her to stay in Bella’s life if she were to end her relationship with Bella’s father – will not sit well with readers. There is no exploration of a future in which everyone wins, even though all other elements of the novel lead down that path. When all of the other narratives are shades of gray, this one subplot is too black and white, and ultimately leads to an unsatisfactory ending in an otherwise decent novel.
The Book of Someday is an ambitious, triple-narrative story, the success of which rests on Ms. Dixon’s ability to make all three narratives equal in importance and emotion. Unfortunately, it is the same area in which she does not entirely succeed. Ms. Dixon’s use of present tense regardless of narrator, and in spite of the fact that the entire novel spans several decades, is distracting. This not only takes a reader out of the narrative but also requires some effort on the part of the reader to remember what is happening to whom and in what decade. Another point of weakness is the genre crossover. In some aspects, the story has a romance novel feel, where all characters obtain the justice, redemption, and/or love they seek. However, the ending is surprisingly ambiguous and results in a decidedly contradictory tone that does not fit the rest of the novel. In fact, the disharmony of the ending is disruptive enough to counter one’s enjoyment of the overall story. Ms. Dixon’s concept is interesting, but a few key flaws in the narrative make The Book of Someday enjoyable but weak.