How do people decide on a path, and find the drive to pursue what they want?
Ida struggles more than other young people to work this out. She can shift between parallel universes, allowing her to follow alternative paths.
One day Ida sees a shadowy, see-through doppelganger of herself on the train. She starts to wonder if she’s actually in control of her ability, and whether there are effects far beyond what she’s considered.
How can she know, anyway, whether one universe is ultimately better than another? And what if the continual shifting causes her to lose what is most important to her, just as she’s discovering what that is, and she can never find her way back?
Ida by Alison Evans
Published: January 1st 2017 by Bonnier Publishing
Source: ARC via Netgalley
*Check out own voices reviews by non-binary and trans reviewers.
When Ida’s ability to shift between parallel universes starts to change, she takes a deeper look at the paths available to her and the people in her life. The writing of these tense scenes create a quietly immersive atmosphere. The focus upon job hunting and family concerns are also refreshing and relatable new/young adult experiences that ground this SF novel in reality.
On a SF note, the doppelgangers were also chilling in the surreal scenes where Ida is navigating the mystery around her ability to pass into an alternate reality. I was also intrigued by the role that Damaris and Adrastos played in monitoring the parallel worlds and the people within them. Both Damaris and Adrastos are genderfluid. I would love to read more about their stories too.
Also, Ida is bisexual and her partner Daisy is genderqueer (uses they/them/theirs pronouns). Their relationship is sweet and they both draw strength from each other. Ida’s cousin Frank is trans and their friendship is another rock in Ida’s world. It is great to read a young adult story with supportive family present too.
Near the beginning of the novel, Ida refers to herself as Asian while reflecting upon how she came to accept her body. This is an important note on breaking the stereotype that Asians are all thin. Ida is also biracial with German and Vietnamese heritage. Though her Vietnamese heritage is only directly addressed in the latter half of the novel and perhaps, could have been developed a bit more. (For a related perspective on Vietnamese representation, see this episode of the Bookish Friends podcast). On the other hand, after discussing the book with Sinead, I’ve come to realise that Ida has probably assimilated more into the dominant culture around her with the presence of one living parent, so her distance from her Vietnamese heritage is understandable due to the complexity of biracial identity. I recommend Sinead’s positive review in regards to biracial representation in Ida. The author referred to sensitivity readers with Vietnamese heritage in the acknowledgements, which is also important to note.
Ida’s struggles with asthma in her youth are touched upon in this story too. Many people I knew growing up had asthma, so I appreciate its inclusion here. Ida is an intriguing and introspective SF novel for fans of parallels worlds stories. I hope for more intersectional SFF stories in Australian YA and literature to come.
*Ida, the novel is own voices in terms of genderqueer identity.
*For more book reviews, support with coffee at Ko-Fi.