Never Again, by Heather StarSong ISBN 9781941295267
Four out of five stars
I do not know if the given name of the author is a pen name, but it certainly fits the plot of the book. Clara Norwood has just turned eighty years old and quite naturally is unable to do much of what she used to do. Made of fairly stern material she embarks on a hike on her favorite mountain trail and takes a naked dip in the cold stream.
When lighting strikes a nearby tree Clara is knocked down and fully expects to die as she closes her eyes. Opening them again, she finds herself on an Elirian spaceship. They are a species of space travelers that are investigating Earth in an attempt to learn more about humans and the planet they live on. The Elirians are capable of many things, including the folding of time and the modification of living creatures. When returned to Earth, Clara discovers that her body has in general been repaired, she is now a person with eighty years of experience in the body of a young and vigorous woman.
Clara then has to deal with her adult children, her friends whose bodies remain at their chronological age and the prospect of living a second adulthood. Most of the people around her accept the changes well and Clara is even involved in a love affair with a “younger” man.
Not surprisingly, she feels very much alienated with the world of “young” people. Clara struggles to understand and cope with the modern 24/7 business/personal model conducted on smartphones. She has asked the Elirians whether it was possible for them to undo her physical changes and was informed that it was indeed possible.
Although the inherent conflicts of being an eighty-year-old woman in a body fifty years younger are covered, it is not done to the depth to which it should have been. One of the most powerful points of anguish that could have received greater coverage is the knowledge that young Clara would almost certainly experience the death of all of her friends, most or all of her adult children and perhaps even some of her grandchildren. These would have been devastating events, but there would be some benefits, for she could have been there to aid her children when their bodies were failing. I find the idea of being there to take care of my child when she is old one that would sway me to stay young if given the chance. To me, this odd temporal paradox is fascinating.
Of course, Clara eventually makes a decision and it is no surprise to the reader. She ends up living according to her values, finding joy in many of the simpler things of life.
This book was made available for free for review purposes.