November 14, 2022 7:53 AM EST

Alice Stern is about to turn 40, and her life is not exactly where she thought it would be by now. She’s still living in a studio apartment and working in the admissions office of the private school she attended as a teen. But when she wakes up the morning after her birthday to discover she is, somehow, 16 again, she’s not obsessed with her youthful body or getting a second chance with the boy she had a crush on. She’s fixated on her dad, a well-known author who is gravely ill in the present day but healthy in this peculiar moment. As Alice reunites with one of the most important people in her life, she wonders how she can perhaps change his future. In exploring their relationship, Emma Straub has never been better, expertly manipulating time travel tropes to unravel a tender story about family and fate. The result is a narrative full of revelations both heartbreaking and delightful, and one that serves as a love letter to Straub’s own father, the novelist Peter Straub, who passed away in September. —Annabel Gutterman

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