Emma Young brings issues of self and identity to the forefront in clever new ways in SHE, MYSELF, AND I!
Rosa’s body is giving out. Sylvia is brain-dead. Doctors believe Rosa can have a shot…if her brain is transplanted into Sylvia’s body. It’s a risky and almost unheard of procedure, but if it works, Rosa has a chance at any life she wants.
Literally waking up in someone else’s body, Rosa is (naturally) out of sorts. She still has her concerned parents, and her brother, Elliot, who is there to crack “rude” jokes to coax a laugh out of her. Her family, whose company was all she had for years, is no longer enough. Unfortunately, Rosa’s surgery requires a lot of follow-up treatment, causing her to be stuck in a hospital when she just wants to breathe some fresh air and feel the sun. When she’s well enough, she sneaks away into the park and observes people–and she quickly finds a young man, Joe, observing her. Joe’s a (handsome) reporter, and Rosa doesn’t want word of her surgery hitting the media; she’d be a spectacle. But Rosa also can’t quite seem to disconnect herself from Joe’s company and decides to ask him for a big favor…
In a novel of discovery and adventure, Rosa goes searching for more about Sylvia and more about herself. Once chronically ill and ultimately doomed to die, Rosa has a new lease on life, and she’s not quite sure how to grab ahold of it. Who was Sylvia? Does Sylvia still exist to some extent, even though all that remains is her body? Who is Rosa now that she’s in Sylvia’s body? With a whole future ahead of her, what type of person does Rosa want to be?
Overall, She, Myself, and I was more than a read; it was an experience. The plot brought up multiple conflicts–some were resolved quickly while others were more drawn-out. Events I did not expect to take place squeezed in, bringing a welcomed element of surprise. Various characters and storylines brought on visceral reactions. Emma Young’s writing style comes to life in a colorful, poetic manner.
The medical aspect of the novel is a progressive one, and I believe such advances are in our world’s near future. There is a moral undertone throughout the novel that needs to be addressed in today’s world. Questions that society tries to sidestep are brought forward, and the reader must decide where his/her opinions fall. What is wrong? What is right? Is the line blurry, and if so, why? No matter the answer to those questions, there is still enough for the reader to sympathize and connect with in Rosa’s story. She debates moral ambiguity just as much as the reader.
Rosa’s character is one of the better ones I’ve read. She’s complex, but also relatable. Sure, none of us have experienced having a brain transplant, but I bet we’ve all struggled with finding at least a small facet of our identity. Rosa has so much more to see and learn now that she has a chance to live, and reading about her getting her feet wet in a world where she once didn’t believe she belonged was a stimulating ride. I was most pleased that Rosa was written to have bigger fish to fry than constantly worrying about a romantic partner. I find too many YA novels dwell on a love story when there’s so much for to explore.
She, Myself, and I was a challenging, unsettling read. I highly recommend it, no matter your preferred sub-genre of YA literature. It’s a story, a wake-up call, and a message all need to hear.
RATING: 4.5 OUT OF 5 STARS
She, Myself, and I dropped on September 5th, 2017. You can order it now via Amazon.
Ever since Rosa’s nerve disease rendered her quadriplegic, she’s depended on her handsome, confident older brother to be her rock and her mirror. But when a doctor from Boston chooses her to be a candidate for an experimental brain transplant, she and her family move from London in search of a miracle.
Sylvia—a girl from a small town in Massachusetts—is brain dead, and her parents have agreed to donate her body to give Rosa a new life. But when Rosa wakes from surgery, she can’t help but wonder, with increasing obsession, who Sylvia was and what her life was like.
Her fascination with her new body and her desire to understand Sylvia prompt a road trip based on self-discovery… and a surprising new romance. But will Rosa be able to solve the dilemma of her identity?