An Infinite Number of Parallel Universes

240p. Adams Media/Merit. Oct. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781440588143.
Gr 9 Up—For years, Archie, Mari, Dante, Sam, and Sarah have been meeting weekly and playing an ongoing campaign of Dungeons and Dragons. By all appearances, the five are close, longtime friends and buddies. But the fantasy game they are playing might just be a metaphor for a fantasy friendship—no one knows Dante is gay, for example, or that Archie secretly pines for Mari. When Sarah moves away with her family, almost without a word about it to anyone, she leaves Archie, Mari, Dante, and Sam to come to terms with what kind of relationship it is that the five really have. As they embark on a cross-country road trip to find Sarah and help Sam win her back, a wise and smelly hitchhiker, a tornado, a car fire, a hate crime, a love kindled, and a love extinguished bring Archie, Mari, Dante, and Sam together as real friends who know how to really live. Told initially in alternating third-person omniscient narrative, the story begins by letting readers know the thoughts and motivations of each of the four main characters by going over the same events from differing perspectives. By the end, the stories intertwine into a single narrative in which teens will be invested in all parties equally. The pace, because of this format, never catches up to the high-stakes events on this road trip.
VERDICT A quiet and meaningful story, though a bit too mopey to pack a real punch.

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