When Rebecca’s boyfriend goes missing, she learns that he may be caught up in the stranger game. So she, too, begins to play. Rule No. 1: Choose random people to follow, and don’t get caught….
Gadol’s (Silver Lake, 2009, etc.) novel explores the inherent loneliness of modern life and suggests that, in our desperate search for meaning and connection, we are willing to do almost anything. When Ezra disappears, Rebecca finds a copy of an article on his desk written by A. Craig (a pseudonym) about how, in his own desire to escape the crushing isolation of his life, he begins to follow total strangers. Eventually this “game” becomes all-consuming. According to the detective to whom Rebecca reports Ezra’s disappearance, more and more people are dropping out to play the game. Even more troubling, there are underground versions of the game in which people break into empty houses or hire “stagers” to create potentially violent confrontations. The police may even be involved, so Rebecca has to be careful whom she trusts—and that includes her new lover, Carey. The irony, of course, is that while the founder of the stranger game claims that following strangers helps him develop empathy, players actually just impose their own assumptions on the narratives they craft to explain the motives of another. In other words, we don’t truly see other people for who they are; instead, we filter what we see through our own experiences, preventing us from learning new perspectives on the world. Perhaps the best we can do, Gadol suggests through Rebecca and Ezra, is “to know one person as completely as possible” and ask, “How could you draw a line connecting you and this one great love? How could you make that line indelible?”
Beautiful, thoughtful meditation on the invisible ties that bind us—even to strangers.