By Lev Grossman
Formats and Prices
- ebook (Digital original) $1.99 $2.99 CAD
- Audiobook Download (Unabridged)
This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around February 2, 2021. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.
From #1 New York Times bestselling author Lev Grossman comes a magical-realist romance that turns the Groundhog Day premise inside-out and upside-down—coming soon to Amazon as a major motion picture.
Mark is 17-years-old and trapped in a time loop, and that’s just fine with him. It’s summertime and he’s spending this one infinitely repeating day reading his way through the town library. Then he discovers someone else in the loop with him: the brilliant, haunted Margaret. Together Mark and Margaret set out to find every wonderful, amazing, perfect thing that happens in that one day—a journey that will take them to the dark secret that waits at the very heart of their endless day.
Thrilling, funny, and deeply romantic, this novella is perfect for fans of John Green, Nicola Yoon, and Jandy Nelson.
It was August 4th, and I guess it already had been for a while. To be totally honest I didn’t even notice the change at first. My life was already serving up these big fat sweltery summer days anyway, one after the other, each one pretty much exactly the same as the one before it… probably a more powerfully alert and observant person would have picked up on the change sooner.
What can I say, it was summer. It was hot. Anyway, here’s what was going on: Time had stopped.
Or it hadn’t stopped, exactly, but it got stuck in a loop.
Please believe me when I say that this is not a metaphor. I’m not trying to tell you that I was really bored and it seemed like summer would never end or something like that. What I’m saying is, the summer after my freshman year of high school, the calendar got to August 4th and gave up: Literally every single day after that was also August 4th. I went to bed on the night of August 4th. I woke up, it was the morning of August 4th.
The chain had slipped off the wheel of the cosmos. The great iTunes of the heavens was set on Repeat One.
As supernatural predicaments go it wasn’t even that original, given that this exact same thing happened to Bill Murray in Groundhog Day. In fact one of the first things I did was watch that movie about eight times, and while I appreciate its wry yet tender take on the emotional challenges of romantic love, let me tell you, as a practical guide to extricating yourself from a state of chronological stasis it leaves a lot to be desired.
And yes, I watched Edge of Tomorrow too. So if I ran into an Omega Mimic, believe me, I knew exactly what to do. But I never did.
If there was a major difference between my deal and Groundhog Day, it was probably that unlike Bill Murray I didn’t really mind it all that much, at least at first. It wasn’t freezing cold. I didn’t have to go to work. I’m kind of a loner anyway, so I mostly took it as an opportunity to read a lot of books and play an ungodly amount of video games.
The only real downside was that nobody else knew what was happening, so I had nobody to talk to about it. Everybody around me thought they were living today for the first time ever. I had to put a lot of effort into pretending not to see things coming and acting surprised when they came.
And also it was boiling hot. Seriously, it was like all the air in the world had been sucked away and replaced by this hot, clear, viscous syrup. Most days I sweated through my shirt by the time I finished breakfast. This was in Lexington, Massachusetts, by the way, where I was already stuck in space as well as time, because my parents didn’t want to pony up for the second session of summer camp, and my temp job at my mom’s accounting firm wouldn’t start till next week. So I was already killing time, even as it was.
Only now, when I killed time, it didn’t stay dead. It rose from the grave and lived again. I was on zombie time.
Lexington is a suburb of Boston, and as such is composed of a lot of smooth gray asphalt, a lot of green lawns, a lot of pine trees, a bunch of faux-colonial McMansions, and some cute, decorous downtown shoppes. And some Historick Landmarks—Lexington played a memorable though tactically meaningless role in the Revolutionary War, so there’s a lot of historical authenticity going on here, as is clearly indicated by a lot of helpful informational plaques.
After the first week or so I had a pretty solid routine going. In the morning I slept through my mom leaving for work; on her way she would drop my impressively but slightly disturbingly athletic little sister at soccer camp, leaving me completely alone. I had Honey Nut Cheerios for breakfast, which you’d think would get boring fast, but actually I found myself enjoying them more and more as time went by. There’s a great deal of subtlety in your Honey Nut Cheerio. A lot of layers to uncover.
I learned when to make myself scarce. I found ways to absent myself from the house from 5:17 p.m. to 6:03 p.m., which is when my sister muffed the tricky fast bit in the third movement of Vivaldi’s Violin Concerto in A Minor seventeen times straight. I generally skipped out after dinner while my parents—they got divorced a couple of years ago, but my dad was over for some reason, probably to talk about money—had a nastier-than-usual fight about whether or not my mom should take her car into the shop because the muffler rattled when you went over bumps.
It put things in perspective. Note to self: Do not waste entire life being angry about stupid things.
As for the rest of the day, my strategies for occupying myself for all eternity were mostly (a) going to the library, and (b) going to the pool.
Generally I chose option (a). The library was probably the place in Lexington where I felt the most at home, and that’s not excluding my actual home, the one where I slept at night. It was quiet at the library. It was air-conditioned. It was calm. Books don’t practice violin. Or fight about mufflers.
Plus they smell really good. This is why I’m not much of a supporter of the glorious e-book revolution. E-books don’t smell like anything.
With an apparently infinite amount of time at my disposal, I could afford to think big, and I did: I decided to read through the entire fantasy and science fiction section, book by book, in alphabetical order. At the time, that was pretty much my definition of happiness. (That definition was about to change, in a big way, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.) At the point where this story starts it had been August 4th for I would say approximately a month, give or take, and I was up to Flatland, which is by a guy named, no kidding, Edwin Abbott Abbott.
Flatland was published in 1884, and it’s about the adventures of a Square and a Sphere. The idea is that the Square is a flat, two-dimensional shape, and the Sphere is a round, three-dimensional shape, so when they meet the Sphere has to explain to this flat Square what the third dimension is. Like what it means to have height in addition to length and width. His whole life, the Square has lived on one plane and never looked up, and now he does for the first time and, needless to say, his flat little mind is pretty much blown.
Then the Sphere and the Square hit the road together and visit a one-dimensional world, where everybody is a near-infinitely thin Line, and then a zero-dimensional world, which is inhabited by a single infinitely small Point who sits there singing to himself forever. He has no idea anybody or anything else exists.
After that they try to figure out what the fourth dimension would be like, at which point my brain broke and I decided to go to the pool instead.
You might jump in at this point and say: Hey. Guy. (It’s Mark.) Okay, Mark. If the same day is repeating over and over again, if every morning it just goes back to the beginning automatically, with everything exactly the way it was, then you could basically do whatever you want, am I right? I mean, sure, you could go to the library, but you could go to the library naked and it wouldn’t even matter, because it would all be erased the next day like a shaken Etch A Sketch. You could, I don’t know, rob a bank or hop a freight train or tell everybody what you really think of them. You could do anything you wanted.
Which was, yes, theoretically true. But honestly, in this heat, who has the energy? What I wanted was to sit on my ass somewhere air-conditioned and read books.
Plus, you know, there was always the super-slight chance that that one time it wouldn’t work, that the spell would go away as suddenly and mysteriously as it had arrived, and I would wake up on August 5th and have to deal with the consequences of whatever crazy thing I just did.
I mean, for the time being I was living without consequences. But you can’t hold back consequences forever.
Like I was saying, I went to the pool. This is important because it’s where I met Margaret, and that’s important because after I met her everything changed.
- On Sale
- Feb 2, 2021
- Page Count
- 63 pages
- Little, Brown Books for Young Readers