Sherl’s debut novel wonders what would happen if we could see the future—at least where relationships are concerned.
In Baltimore, doctors—called "envisionists"—have found a way to show people willing to spend the time (and having adequate insurance coverage) what their future with any one person will be like. Evelyn Shriner, a 25-year-old librarian, is a firm believer in envisioning; she may even be addicted to it. She breaks up with her current boyfriend after seeing their future—not awful but not great either—and becomes obsessed with finding her ideal mate. Godfrey Burkes is skeptical of envisioning as a process, but he goes because Madge, his almost fiancee, makes it a condition of their engagement. Godfrey and Evelyn meet in the waiting room, and the rest, with a few twists, is more or less history. The novel has the feel of an indie rom-com: boy meets girl, etc. The dialogue, while clever, is not especially realistic or emotionally resonant, and quirky clothing (mitten clips, a vintage 1976 bicentennial bikini) abounds. But the book does reveal some absurd truths about relationships in a society fully geared toward self-improvement and couples therapy, such as Madge’s constant insistence that she and Godfrey work to fix their relationship while Godfrey isn't sure it’s actually broken. Both Evelyn and Godfrey are shadowed by elements of their parents’ lives that leave them questioning their own identities, but the severity of their struggle gets a bit lost among the witty exchanges and eccentric minor characters.
An entertaining and well-meaning novel, but by the end, we’re wishing everyone in it would just grow up already.