Genre: Fiction: Women’s Fiction, SciFi/Time Travel, Fantasy
Publisher: Harvard Square Editions
Date of Publication: September 4, 2020
Number of pages: 290
Tagline: A trippy fantasy that uses time travel to explore the inner drives of a woman in midlife whose errand to a department store lipstick counter becomes an opportunity to unravel the mystery of self.
My debut novel, The Road Not Taken, is about a woman who is smart, suddenly widowed, and without a purpose in life. Early in the story she meets a woman who appears to be her twin sister, but who is a 50 million year old member of a small group of humans who arrived on earth as soon as it cooled down.
Deborah has been chosen to give the members of this early group of earthlings an “argument” for or against going on with planet earth which requires a lot of energy. Every 10 thousand years, the group finds a human being who can show them how far the species has progressed. In this case, they chose Deborah who is bright, but has done nothing to help make earth a better place. She is out of touch with every human part of herself.
She must learn things that most of us never see, giving her an intensive course on our universe including insights into human pros and cons. She is taken to horrible historic times, and magical places, like the discovery of Egyptian gods. She is shown planets that are archived because they were not worth maintaining, she befriends a brilliant artist who is no longer alive.
Deborah begins to constantly ask herself if the world is worth saving. Being the “decider” for her, I had to write an answer to this question. It was hard to grapple with my own sadness at things that are unbearable to me: violence, cruelty, lack of compassion for people and animals. The animals are where I initially made the judgement to close this planet down. Too much flesh eaten, too many trophies taken for fun. Too many people who abandon old dogs or cats when they become annoying and hard to care for.
I was on my way to writing a closing argument for her that suggested ending this whole cruel place. Then something amazing happened.
My friend, a burly, manly guy who loves football and steak, found a tiny kitten outside his house. He thought it was dead, but he chose to pick it up and he felt its heartbeat. He rushed the kitten to a vet and was given eyedroppers to feed him, flee meds to clean off his tiny body.
For 8 days this “tough” man hand fed the little cat sending constant updates on the kitten’s eating and breathing to me, along with amazingly hopeful photos. He held him all day to keep him warm. He showed me what the human at its best is like.
Soon after I finished the book my friend called -- the kitten had died. His heart just stopped beating. My friend and I hung up because we were both crying. But now I remembered what is worth saving on earth.