Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Review: The Original 1982 by Lori Carson

The past is immutable, fixed, never changing. You can only change your future. Each decision you make, large or small, impacts the direction that your future takes and changes who you are. Unlike the future, which is still to be writ, we say the past is over and done with. But since it only exists in memory, why can't you change it? Why can't you go back and imagine a different past, one that hinges on a single decision you made, one that you now reverse in your memory, altering your future? You can write your own past and create an imagined present and future. You can create a new story of you. This is the premise in Lori Carson's bittersweet new novel The Original 1982.

Looking back on her life thus far, Lisa pinpoints one decision that forever changed the path her life took and she wonders what would have happened had she chosen differently. In the original 1982, she is a young woman working as a waitress and trying to break into the music business. Her boyfriend is a famous Latin musician and when she accidentally gets pregnant, he convinces her to have an abortion and her life proceeds on from there. But what if she'd kept the baby? What then? Just how would her life be different? Lisa addresses the tale of her imagined life to her almost daughter Minnow, telling her about their life together, the ways in which things would have changed and the surprising ways in which some things would have remained the same or achieved the same outcome. In creating the past for a life she chose not to live, Lisa sometimes gives a nod to the original 1982 and the way that her life did in fact unfold over the years.

The novel alternates between these appreciably different lives but focuses much more on Lisa's freshly imagined life than the original. While Lisa's life as it actually happened holds no surprises for her as she narrates, her imagined life is awash in the possibilities towards which having Minnow would have steered her. And yet this fully realized ode to herself and to the memory of her baby never born, life is not easy or always happy. She struggles and falls, sacrifices and compromises in this imagined existence too. And this makes the imagining that much more poignant, haunting, and truly more realistic. No life was ever going to be perfect. Carson has captured the ache, the longing, and the regret for the road not taken beautifully and imaginatively here. Lisa is certainly telling her invented story "with a sigh somewhere ages and ages hence" with all the melancholy, quiet emotion which that phrase captures. Readers in search of an unusual read, one that resonates with the power of storytelling and the invention of a life will find it here in this short grace-filled novel of what might have been.

For more information about Lori Carson and the book check out her website or find her on Facebook. Follow the rest of the blog tour or look at the amazon reviews for others' thoughts and opinions on the book.

Thanks to Trish from TLC Book Tours and the publisher for sending me a copy of this book to review.


  1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this unusual book for the tour! I'm featuring your review on TLC's Facebook page today.

  2. I'm not sure she is happy in the end with the Original 1982 or longs for the alternate 1982. What do you think?


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