There Will Never Be Another You
When Edith's husband Charlie dies in 2001, she has been deep in
caretaker mode. Now, she awakes to the world in a jolt when her son
commands her to turn the television on the morning after Charlie
has died, September 11th. She sees buildings aflame, and
In 2007, 64-year-old Edith is a volunteer at the hospital waiting
room desk at UCLA, where her son, dermatologist Phil Fuchs, works.
Edith despises the job, yet she feels an essential truth might be
Phil notices three dead cats in a few hours. It seems ominous, but
not nearly as much as the man in the HAZ-MAT suit and plastic mask
who picks up the bodies with a machine --- and then drops them onto
a pile of dead cats. Phil hears rumors that Animal Control trucks
have been parked outside the ER. What is going on? His research
scientist friend, Fred, tells him something dire has slipped out
from the monkeys in the bio lab to infect the cats.
At home, Phil's wife Felicia suggests they get in the car and flee.
Phil dismisses the idea yet obsessively searches for media mention
of the problem. Fred calls to tell him he's seen the monkey lab ---
once bustling, but now deserted. Fred himself never comes back to
work, pleading a family emergency.
Phil's daughter is high-achieving but cruel. His son is not quite
right. Felicia, his worthless, pampered wife, pleads for more
babies, sinking Phil deeper into the despair that is his life. Phil
uses his mistress as a drug in order to forget the rest of his
existence, but when she leaves him he feels mostly relief.
In a top-secret meeting, the military requests that Phil join a
medical team focused on bioterrorism; they are to respond in the
event of chemical or biological attack. Phil reluctantly agrees.
Members of the team are issued security suits to be kept under lock
Andrea, a beautiful blonde college student, regularly spends time
in the UCLA waiting room while her father undergoes dialysis. On
one occasion, she meets Danny, a tough Chinese guy who was in one
of her classes. The two leave the hospital to make love in the
bushes of a nearby botanical garden. As Andrea and Danny fall in
love, they struggle to fit into each other's lives.
As the three sets of ordinary people live their lives, terror
squeezes them from all sides. There is sure to be a terrorist
attack soon, or a plague. The fear twists their attitudes and
blackens their futures. Felicia pressures Phil to join a country
club while simultaneously stockpiling canned food and bottled water
for the inevitable disaster. Phil witnesses the beginning of
catastrophe while fearing for his son's education.
The atmosphere of amorphous foreboding and security obsession is
both nightmarish and familiar, knotting the reader's gut with fear
at our vulnerability. As in real life, the characters wonder what
terror is real and what is imagined. A scenario of disaster is
plausible; it might be happening covertly at this very moment.
Should we be terrified --- or should we be more frightened at
living our lives warped by being terrified? In the midst of
despair, Carolyn See envisions hope. She manages to leave us
uplifted: No matter how precarious life is, not only can we go on,
we also can find joy. Highest recommendation for a riveting and
Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon (firstname.lastname@example.org) on January 23, 2011
There Will Never Be Another You
- Publication Date: September 25, 2007
- Genres: Fiction
- Paperback: 272 pages
- Publisher: Ballantine Books
- ISBN-10: 0345440471
- ISBN-13: 9780345440471