I think I should start with some background as this book is part of the greater world of the podcast Within the Wires. But, I agree with the authors that you don’t need to have listened to any of it to enjoy this book. I will say, being a fan of the podcast, that what I remembered from listening to the first season—which was a long time ago in terms of my audio consumption—did enhance my experience.
I’m a big fan of the authors’ other works, mainly podcasts. They excel at telling a story while slipping in just the right amount of strange and unsettling details to keep you questioning. Details that, in this book, seem to indicate that the world isn’t what it seems and things are just a little off—below the surface of the New Society.
The book is laid out and organized as if a printing press has found this manuscript and have decided, possibly against their better judgment, to publish the work. Throughout the manuscript are footnotes that seek to clarify or disprove parts of the writing. They can neither confirm nor deny, really, if the author is who she says she is.
In this world, the Great Reckoning has devastated the entire globe and the only way that the New Society sees forward is to disregard and, eventually, remove all forms of familial attachments. But, will it work? Well, I don’t think that it’s a spoiler to say: probably not. As that isn’t the focus of the story.
Unconfirmed though she may be, the writer claims to be the woman who started the whole movement turned governmental mandate of “removing” children's memories from before they were ten. This manuscript is her life’s work, perhaps to try to right the wrongs she feels she has committed, perhaps only to share her story, perhaps in hopes of shedding light on a terrible secret.
“Was I hoping to write my way to absolution? I don’t think I even believe in absolution. You live your life, and then at the end you have to look back on it. You can either accept it or you can’t, but either way, you die with it behind you.”
I highly recommend this book if you like alternate world stories that are a bit unsettling in the not-so-far-off disparate details.
You Feel It Just Below the Ribs
by Jeffrey Cranor and Janina Matthewson