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One Way or Another: 07/08/21

Deadly Ever After by Kara McDowell

One Way or Another by Kara McDowell is a YA romance that explores how a relationship starts with two different approaches thanks to a divergent timeline. Paige Collins has been in love with Fitz for ages but she has ended up as his wingman. She hasn't mentioned her feelings for him because she has undiagnosed anxiety.

Now after his latest girlfriend has dumped him, she has the chance to spend Christmas with him and his family. But she also has the chance to go to New York City with her mother for Christmas. To help her make the big decision, she's installed a Magic 8 Ball app. In one narrative thread, it tells her to go with Fitz to the Arizona mountains. In the other she goes to New York with her mother.

Parallel, alternating chapters are hit or miss for me. For One Way or Another it's a hit. McDowell weaves thematic threads from one "Fate" to the other. While one universe doesn't affect the other, an event that happens in one will be mentioned in the other. This gives us a chance to see how Paige reacts to things she can have no direct influence on.

One big question of the book is how young is too young to fall in love and get engaged? This is a side plot beyond Paige's anxiety over her feelings for Fitz. The other is how trustworthy is Fitz. Is he a womanizer or is he just unlucky in love?

Paige's parallel universe travels are also marked on the road narrative spectrum. For the Arizona Christmas trip, the travelers are the couple (Paige and Fitz) (33) and for the New York trip, the family (Paige and her mother) (33). Because of the what-if nature of these fates, the destination is uhoria (CC). The route through uhoria is the labyrinth (99) in that the journey in both cases is transformative for Paige, her mother, and Fitz.

Five stars

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