I just had the immense pleasure of reading one of the best books of the year. I have tears streaming down my face, and have had tears welling for the past couple of chapters. What an incredible experience reading this book was. The initial idea of strings and our own mortality was a genius one. Following people in the United States going through the motions was fascinating. Hearing about US perspectives vs what was happening overseas was fabulous. But that's not what makes this book so impactful, so meaningful and so worthwhile. It's the fundamental foundation of love, that shapes the lives that we all build for ourselves, and that you see being built in the worlds of these characters, that make this book shine so brightly.
I wish the author all the best and thank you for sharing this wonderful story with me. I'll be carrying it around in my heart for a long time.
A whimsical metaphor for the current covid pandemic, a story of 6 very intertwined lives in an imagined reality where everyone over the age of 22 receives a box with a length of string signifying the length of their life.
6 very different perspectives are interwoven in very short snippety chapters, despite this I found it difficult to fall into this as hard as I wanted to.
Pleasant but somewhat cliche, the message to measure the depth of ones life over the length of it.
What would you do? The Measure is a beguiling contemporary soft literary fiction novel set in an alternate reality (ie no pandemic) version of near future New York, about how the sudden discovery of how long each person has left to live shapes their choices in life, love and everything else. It’s a clever idea, and would make a great choice for book clubs.
On an ordinary day in March, without warning, each human on the planet over the age of 22 is delivered a small wooden box, containing a single piece of string. Speculation runs rife over how this was accomplished and by whom, but what becomes clear, is that the length of the string represents that person’s lifeline. As time passes, and people start dying as predicted, it becomes clear that there is no cheating fate. Eight people from different backgrounds must each face the consequences of this new knowledge, as their lives intertwine - but will it ruin their lives or set them free?
First a warning - if you read this book because you’re curious about the mystery of the strings and are hoping for an answer, supernatural or otherwise, forget it - it’s never explained. Instead this is about how the world changes irrevocably - and yet life goes on. Obviously there are parallels with the pandemic, and in particular with the way the population is divided into two, short-strings and long-strings, and the impact this has on peoples’ lives, careers and relationships, as human behaviour takes it’s depressingly predictable course and the majority find ways to demonise the minority.
I liked the way we gradually get to know each of the eight central characters, most sympathetic, but there’s a great love-to-hate one in Anthony the repugnant Republican, and his vain shallow wife. I liked Anthony’s conflicted nephew Jack, and honourable best friend Javier, and loved earnest architect Ben and valiant ED doc Hank. The female characters were interesting, as they showed the most evolution and their stories were more emotionally driven. I particularly liked the subtle links between the minor characters throughout the book, which showed how interconnected we really all are - but you need to pay attention. Obviously with this premise not all the endings will be happy, but the author does wrap up everyone’s arc in a satisfying way.
I sort of want to give this 5 stars for the originality of the idea, but am docking one because I did find the first half a bit slow, and found myself dropping out every few chapters to browse the news & socials. I note any negative reviews usually mention DNFing at 20 or 30% - I’m very glad I kept going as this was a very good story - particularly for a debut author. I’ll be interested to see what she comes up with next. Thanks to NetGalley and HarperCollins Australia for the ARC. I am posting this honest review voluntarily. The Measure is available now.