I wasn’t sure what I was getting into with And Again. The back of the book never uses the word clones and throughout the novel, that word comes up a handful of times. But that’s exactly what they are. Clones. I haven’t read many books dealing with clones but that word always evokes thoughts of top secret experiments and feelings of being unnatural and dirty.
Cloning is usually represented in the far future where cars fly and the Earth has so drastically changed it might not be the same planet anymore. And Again is the exact opposite. The 4 main characters: David, Hannah, Linda, Connie, might be apart of a top secret experiment but its being over looked by the FDA. They’re not searching for immortality but it’s the latest cure for all terminal illnesses. David is cured of his brain tumor. Connie is cured of her AIDS, Hannah is cured of her lung cancer, and even Linda is free from her quadriplegic body.
But how do you jump back into your life? Sure, your memories were transferred over by complicated brain surgery, but living in an illness free body isn’t as easy as it sounds. Each character has to enduring entering society again essentially as a child. Different eye sight, different taste buds, no muscle mass. Hannah remembers the technique of how to paint but she can’t get the same emotion into her artwork like before. She wonders aloud to David how much of a person’s personality isn’t only housed in your brain but in your skin and muscles as well. The characters talk about not having the same mannerisms as before, crossing you legs, tucking your hair behind your ear. So much of our personality that is learned and mimicked over time and experiences is wiped clean.
There is an underlying theme of Nature vs Nurture but what happens when both of those aren’t valid anymore? Their memories don’t correspond with their bodies because nothing has happened to these bodies yet. Jessica Chiarella brings humanity to clones with questions and concerns that never would have crossed my mind. It was a thrill to spend time in these characters minds and I’m excited to see what Chiarella has to offer in the future.
By Emily Coleman