“Maybe it’s impossible not to connect our experiences to one another in a really linear way,” narrates Scarlett, a rising college sophomore and physics star. “But Einstein gave us another approach. Time [is] like a flip-book—each image still there but only moving because we turn the pages to see it.”
As readers turn the pages of Shana Youngdahl’s debut novel, As Many Nows as I Can Get, time flips back and forth. We see a road trip after Scarlett’s first year at Colwyn College. We see the year before, as she prepares to say goodbye to her small Colorado town and to David, the local golden boy harboring dark secrets. Just as she’s settling into her new home with her roommate, Mina, Scarlett learns that she’s pregnant. Should she keep the baby, have an abortion or seek adoptive parents? What will her pregnancy mean for her college experience, her intended career as a scientist and her self-image?
As the narration flips between Scarlett’s senior year of high school, her first year of college and the life-changing summer in between, she realizes that, like physics, life is all about thinking, observing, rethinking, drawing a conclusion—and then asking more questions.
YA literature, some say, is about the moments when one state of being changes to another. In its structure and its story, As Many Nows as I Can Get is a perfect example of this sometimes bumpy, sometimes poignant transition.