Come with Me

Come with Me

Recommended by Vogue, the BBC, Southern Living, Pure Wow, Hey Alma, Esquire, EW, Refinery 29, Bust, and Read It or Weep“Mind-blowingly brilliant…. Provocative, profound and yes, a little unsettling, Come With Me is about how technology breaks apart and then reconfigures a family, and though it has hints of sci-fi, it’s so beautifully grounded in reality that it seems to br...

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Title:Come with Me
Author:Helen Schulman
Rating:

Come with Me Reviews

  • Vicky Gottlieb

    Come With Me, Helen Schulman’s sixth novel, is a feat of both craft and storytelling. On the surface it is about a suburban family: the parents, Amy and Dan, are dealing with middle-age ennui, midlife unemployment, and marital resentments, their adolescent son Jack is navigating long distance love and hometown friendships, and Theo and Miles are much younger, behaviorally-challenged twins. Each of these main players has their own narrative along with a quirky, interesting supporting cast. Altoge

    Come With Me, Helen Schulman’s sixth novel, is a feat of both craft and storytelling. On the surface it is about a suburban family: the parents, Amy and Dan, are dealing with middle-age ennui, midlife unemployment, and marital resentments, their adolescent son Jack is navigating long distance love and hometown friendships, and Theo and Miles are much younger, behaviorally-challenged twins. Each of these main players has their own narrative along with a quirky, interesting supporting cast. Altogether they comprise six to eight stories (depending on your perspective), with just as many themes—reality, regret and reconciliation, consciousness and conscience, free will versus destiny, to name a few—that seamlessly intertwine into one that should engross and enchant every type of reader—from those who love a page-turner to literature lovers to philosophical thinkers.

    Set in Silicon Valley, Donny, a Mark Zuckerberg wannabe, has a start-up that’s creating goggles to access multiverses, essentially parallel universes where our life plays out differently. He uses Amy to test the goggles, and through them she virtually experiences alternative realities wrought by alternative choices. Dan, on the other hand, upends his here and now to forge a new life that he experiences in real time. Schulman juxtaposes these scenarios to delve into whether the answers to "what if" impact the present and how they change us. If this sounds sci-fi-y, it isn’t, though it is by turns cool and terrifying, adjectives which also apply to the day-to-day circumstances these exquisitely flawed yet wholly sympathetic characters are plunked into, evoking in each of them our least and most flattering qualities, motives, and impulses.

    Come With Me resonates as an exploration of personal responsibility and fidelity, as an examination of the ethical quandaries imposed by technology’s rapidly changing frontiers, and as a pleasurable, easy to read escape into someone else’s dysfunctional family. One thing is certain: in this and every multiverse Schulman has gifted us with an(other) enduring, relevant work of fiction!

  • Julie Ehlers

    As has already been established here on Goodreads, I

    of Schulman's novel

    but

    by the more recent

    . Initially, to my dismay,

    seemed to have a lot in common with the latter book: Privileged white straight middle-aged married couple; wife in a constant state of feeling put-upon, husband completely clueless in the emotional intelligence department, teenage son depressingly pervy an

    As has already been established here on Goodreads, I

    of Schulman's novel

    but

    by the more recent

    . Initially, to my dismay,

    seemed to have a lot in common with the latter book: Privileged white straight middle-aged married couple; wife in a constant state of feeling put-upon, husband completely clueless in the emotional intelligence department, teenage son depressingly pervy and self-centered, younger sibling(s) in need of protection from the well-meaning but oblivious adults around them. Both novels also contain more viewpoints than seems strictly necessary for such short (200-300 pp.) books. I was so disappointed that I nearly DNF'd this.

    Then Schulman threw a curveball and suddenly I was riveted. Obviously I won't tell you what it is, and it might have been kind of a cheap trick in another writer's hands, but in this case it made me realize what a good writer Schulman really is. Somehow she had set the whole thing up so that by the time the shocking event happened, I was invested without even knowing it. An odd compliment, I know, but I cannot deny that after that I didn't want to do anything but read

    , and it ended up being a completely satisfying reading experience.

    The book is bafflingly flawed. In addition to all those viewpoints, it tries to do too much—major world events and issues are incorporated; the lives and concerns of middle-aged folks, both married and divorced, are dealt with in ways that seem to be trying to say something bigger; the culture of Silicon Valley/Palo Alto and really, the entire internet itself, not to mention the weird complicated topic of multiverses, are all up for discussion. But the sci-fi element the book description promises... isn't quite there, and the people are pretty much all terrible. It seems like the novel should barely hang together, but for some reason, for me it did.

    So, yes,

    is ambitious, and it also manages to be vivid and nimble and thought-provoking and engaging. It defied my expectations over and over again, and when it comes to novels I can't think of much I admire more than that.

  • Jessica Woodbury

    At first I was unsure what the balance in this book would be between domestic drama and surreal/science-fiction trappings. It turns out that it is 95% drama and 5% sci-fi, so if you don't read a lot of sci-fi you have nothing to worry about. And like the best sci-fi, that part of the plot is really just a chance to consider our characters in more depth. And while the startup-Silicon-Valley setting also plays an important role in the story, it's not the focus either. This should have all been jus

    At first I was unsure what the balance in this book would be between domestic drama and surreal/science-fiction trappings. It turns out that it is 95% drama and 5% sci-fi, so if you don't read a lot of sci-fi you have nothing to worry about. And like the best sci-fi, that part of the plot is really just a chance to consider our characters in more depth. And while the startup-Silicon-Valley setting also plays an important role in the story, it's not the focus either. This should have all been just fine with me, but while I was four-stars for this book for much of the first half, it ended up falling down to three.

    The family at the center of the book is well-drawn, and the fact that the plot didn't really take off for a while didn't bother me at all. I enjoyed spending time with them. I enjoyed Amy's take on the world, I enjoyed being in her head. The last third of the book involves several crises culminating together, which is a very real thing, but also meant that most of what's been happening at the book gets sidelined while one particular thing gets worked out. The point of view also changes often, with many characters taking center stage only once, meaning that many of their stories feel unfinished.

    Ultimately I just wanted this to be more than it is, more than just the same story of a marriage we've seen many times before. I wanted the different points of view, the idea of the multiverse invention, the whole package to go up a level and take me somewhere. I knew I was in a book by a skilled writer, but it felt more like a hodgepodge than a cohesive novel.

    I also have to note that this book is another in a trend I've noticed in the past couple of years. It contains a trans character, that character is treated like a person, the character is allowed to be worth loving and worth desiring, but the way the character is written about (especially with respect to the gender they were assigned at birth) is problematic. I am 99% sure the author knows this, that it is the character whose point of view we are in who is ignorant on trans issues. But so much of the world remains ignorant on trans issues, and while this book may mean those audiences see trans people as more valid there are also things they may take away that are callous and insensitive, things you should never say (or think!) with a trans person. I do not know how to solve this dilemma, since of course there will be characters who are ignorant on these issues, but it's a problem nonetheless and I would caution readers who are sensitive on this topic to at least go in with proper expectations.

  • Sarah Beth

    I received an uncorrected proof copy of this novel from HarperCollins.

    Amy is a frustrated mother of three who works part-time for her college roommate's college-aged son in Palo Alto, California. Her boss Donny is exploring ways to allow people to access paths their lives might have taken had they made different choices through a type of virtual reality technology and is using Amy as his test subject. Meanwhile, Amy's husband Dan is an unemployed journalist and their marriage has taken significa

    I received an uncorrected proof copy of this novel from HarperCollins.

    Amy is a frustrated mother of three who works part-time for her college roommate's college-aged son in Palo Alto, California. Her boss Donny is exploring ways to allow people to access paths their lives might have taken had they made different choices through a type of virtual reality technology and is using Amy as his test subject. Meanwhile, Amy's husband Dan is an unemployed journalist and their marriage has taken significant hits due to his layoff and the stress of their three sons. Without telling his wife, Dan travels to Japan to explore his interest in a photographer and to see if he can find passion in a writing assignment again.

    There was a lot going on in this novel including marital drama, professional angst, teenage drama and tragedy, the tech industry, journalism, sci-fi exploration of alternate life routes, learning differences, parenting challenges, global crises, and more. Based on the novel's description, I anticipated that Donny's exploration of 'multiverses' would figure more heavily into the novel, but really that was one thread of the novel, with the majority being a family drama focused on Amy, Dan, and their children's struggles. Donny's technology does help Amy explore what might have been if she hadn't married Dan but the few scenes feel so background to the main storyline as to make them feel like random non-sequiturs.

    A lot of the characters in this novel aren't particularly likeable. In particular, I found Donny, Maryam, and Dan distasteful in different ways. For that matter, Amy herself wasn't particularly likeable. She seems resentful of her children and her job, spends most of her time running to escape her family, and is only really praised by other characters for being attractive. While the writing was well done, I did feel like the multiple threads of this novel didn't fully come together into a cohesive and meaningful conclusion but were left dangling just as they were haphazardly introduced. An interesting premise with relevant topics that fell short of my expectations.

  • Andrew

    I did not overly enjoy Come With me, there are no chapters per se, just indents for changes of character perspective. I am not sure if that is just because I read an advanced copy or that was just the style, but I found it led to some of the confusion I had whilst reading. Also, at times it was difficult to always at first distinguish a change in characters because of the first person view and there being some who were only featured briefly.

    The plot was another piece that I found slippery and no

    I did not overly enjoy Come With me, there are no chapters per se, just indents for changes of character perspective. I am not sure if that is just because I read an advanced copy or that was just the style, but I found it led to some of the confusion I had whilst reading. Also, at times it was difficult to always at first distinguish a change in characters because of the first person view and there being some who were only featured briefly.

    The plot was another piece that I found slippery and not overly solid. There was too much going on and it was more like reading multiple pieces of different stories that did not always tie together very well. There were parts of the story that did not necessarily need to be included to see that Amy's family was having troubles. The multiverse part of the book may have been better if the story had been different stories of Amy rather than her life and family falling apart.

    Donny was my favorite character because he was written as a child in a grown ups body who also happened to run a technology business. I found Amy to definitely be a mother who would do anything to protect her family. Dan was dysfunctional and an oddball. Then, their sons, Jack, Miles and Theo were given well defined attributes and personalities.

    I would recommend this book to someone who enjoys reading about modern day life and the common day struggles that families may face in the US.

  • Kimberley

    This book tested my patience.

    On the one hand, I didn't enter into it with any expectations. Unlike some, I wasn't really sure how much the multiverse aspect would play into the story so I wasn't disappointed when it took a backseat to the marital discord of Amy and Dan. However, there was also a lot here that felt like too much information for the sake of filling pages.

    I didn't need a play-by-play of all the ways in which a marriage can fall to the wayside. Nor was I interested in the far too c

    This book tested my patience.

    On the one hand, I didn't enter into it with any expectations. Unlike some, I wasn't really sure how much the multiverse aspect would play into the story so I wasn't disappointed when it took a backseat to the marital discord of Amy and Dan. However, there was also a lot here that felt like too much information for the sake of filling pages.

    I didn't need a play-by-play of all the ways in which a marriage can fall to the wayside. Nor was I interested in the far too codependent relationship of two horny teenagers with far too much time on their hands...literally.

    There were plenty of interesting characters within the book but they were often relegated to the periphery in favor of a random encounter or some dinnertime shenanigan. While both Kevin (Jack's best friend and Amy's "second son") and Marilyn (the trans woman) eventually play a major role in the arc of the story, neither was fleshed out enough for you to feel connected to them as characters. If anything, they felt like collateral in a story that feels more about a man suffering through a midlife crises as his marriage falls apart.

    I wanted to love this but it often felt like I was reading a rough draft of a story where the author was still letting it "come"to her: it often seemed to veer off the path completely before returning back to whatever its point was in the first place.

  • Chandra Claypool (wherethereadergrows)

    This book was entirely not what I expected it to be. Based on the synopsis I expected more in the way of multiverses and the experiences Amy would have as a guinea pig to Donny in his experiment. This has been a subject that has always fascinated me. How many different lives could you be living - what if you had made different decisions... what would your life be like now? While this book did touch on that, I felt it was not the focus at all during my read, which was disappointing.

    There are a lo

    This book was entirely not what I expected it to be. Based on the synopsis I expected more in the way of multiverses and the experiences Amy would have as a guinea pig to Donny in his experiment. This has been a subject that has always fascinated me. How many different lives could you be living - what if you had made different decisions... what would your life be like now? While this book did touch on that, I felt it was not the focus at all during my read, which was disappointing.

    There are a lot of characters to keep track of in this book and they're all interspersed with each other in one form or another. I kept getting confused as to who belonged to whom and who was whose mother, etc. At times the story line changed from one character to another with no exact change over to let you know we were now looking through someone else's eyes.

    Unfortunately I never connected to any of the characters. I especially wasn't interested in Dan's story line and wanted to drop kick him into next week. I'm not sure exactly what it was about him that just really got under my skin but he just did. Then that ending for him. UGH.

    It's interesting that this is classified under sci-fi when it was such a minimal part of the book. I would put this more under domestic drama and it certainly doesn't fly in the dark comedy or deeply romantic love story that the synopsis leads you to believe in the last paragraph. Maybe it was due to all this misleading that led me to not particularly care for this book. Maybe it was the disconnection I felt to every character. Or maybe it just wasn't a good fit for this reader. No matter which way, unfortunately this book just didn't jive with me.

    Thank you to Harper Books for this copy.

  • Suzanne

    The synopsis of this book, described as exploring parallel lives in multiple universes, sounded so exciting but the reality was much less. I had to interrupt my reading for a few days and was shocked to realize that I had not retained any details about the story. The characters and plot just did not engage me. The sci fi aspect could just as easily be described as mildly hallucinatory experiences with pot in a sensory deprivation chamber. But, why bother? The tale is about an unhappy marriage an

    The synopsis of this book, described as exploring parallel lives in multiple universes, sounded so exciting but the reality was much less. I had to interrupt my reading for a few days and was shocked to realize that I had not retained any details about the story. The characters and plot just did not engage me. The sci fi aspect could just as easily be described as mildly hallucinatory experiences with pot in a sensory deprivation chamber. But, why bother? The tale is about an unhappy marriage and the wistfulness of a middle-age wife/ mother/ woman and her choices in life. But even at that level, the tale is lacking. I received my copy from the publisher through edelweiss.

  • Chris Roberts

    Novelists engaged in state of being

    and or conscious conflagration,

    realize they are oxygenated cliches and attempt and fail,

    to make the reader shed a single, beautiful tear.

    #poem

    Chris Roberts, God Descendant

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