At first, Through to You comes off a straight contemporary. We join Cam mired in his grief, two months after the death of his girlfriend Viv in a car accident. He was with her, but she died and he lived. He spends his time at the memorial at the site of the accident and wallowing, doing his best to avoid any connections with anyone, be it his psychiatrist, his family or his friend Mike. He feels responsible for Viv's death, and has little interest in his own life. His only real goal at this point his keeping his depression hidden enough that he won't be put on pills that might make him forget her.
Viv and Cam used to be the power couple, the star quarterback and the gorgeous cheerleader. Two years before, though, he hurt his leg in an accident and couldn't recover well enough for football. She quit cheerleading to spend more time with him. Their friends, caught up in the social activities, almost all abandoned them. They built their lives around one another. Now, with Viv gone, Cam's grief is tangible. I could feel his ache for her.
One of the most impressive things about Through to You is the authenticity of Camden's voice. He felt one hundred percent like a male to me. Writing a book from the perspective of a character with a different gender than one's own is tricky, but Hainsworth has pulled it off beautifully. The first person narration fit the story perfectly, and I really just loved Hainsworth's writing style.
The novel takes a science fiction/fantasy turn when he sees what he thinks is a ghost. Nina turns out to be a girl from an alternate universe, one where Viv still lives. What an impressive concept! If you were mired in grief, separated forever from the person you love, what would you do to get them back again? Would you leave your universe for another? The why of the situation never gets explained, but this wasn't the kind of book where that bothered me at all. The curiosity of why its happening is part of the fun.
From a philosophical perspective, I could not get enough of the alternate universe stuff. The people are the same physically, and many of their circumstances are identical. However, are they truly the same? How much can two counterparts differ? The characterization is almost entirely stunning. I say almost because I'm not entirely sure about Viv. It might have been helpful to get to see something of Viv and Cam's relationship before her death. Without it, I had no sense of who she'd really been as a person, so I had no real idea how to feel about her counterpart.
Emily Hainsworth packs a lot of emotion into this relatively brief novel. If you enjoyed C. K. Kelly Martin's My Beating Teenage Heart or Amy Garvey's Cold Kiss, get your hands on this book stat. Through to You alternately wowed me with its gorgeous prose and frightened me with its eeriness.