“Mind-blowingly brilliant…. Provocative, profound and yes, a little unsettling, Come With Me is about how technology breaks apart and then reconfigures a family, and though it has hints of sci-fi, it’s so beautifully grounded in reality that it seems to breathe. Although it takes place over just three days, what’s so fascinating is that so many lives, and many possibilities, are lived through it. Truly, it’s a novel like its own multiverse.”
— San Francisco Chronicle
From Helen Schulman, the acclaimed author of the New York Times bestseller This Beautiful Life, comes another "gripping, potent, and blisteringly well-written story of family, dilemma, and consequence" (Elizabeth Gilbert)—a mind-bending novel set in Silicon Valley that challenges our modern constructs of attachment and love, purpose and fate.
"What do you want to know?"
Amy Reed works part-time as a PR person for a tech start-up, run by her college roommate’s nineteen-year-old son, in Palo Alto, California. Donny is a baby genius, a junior at Stanford in his spare time. His play for fortune is an algorithm that may allow people access to their "multiverses"—all the planes on which their alternative life choices can be played out simultaneously—to see how the decisions they’ve made have shaped their lives.
Donny wants Amy to be his guinea pig. And even as she questions Donny’s theories and motives, Amy finds herself unable to resist the lure of the road(s) not taken. Who would she be if she had made different choices, loved different people? Where would she be now?
Amy’s husband, Dan—an unemployed, perhaps unemployable, print journalist—accepts a dare of his own, accompanying a seductive, award-winning photographer named Maryam on a trip to Fukushima, the Japanese city devastated by tsunami and meltdown. Collaborating with Maryam, Dan feels a renewed sense of excitement and possibility he hasn’t felt with his wife in a long time. But when crisis hits at home, the extent of Dan’s betrayal is exposed and, as Amy contemplates alternative lives, the couple must confront whether the distances between them in the here and now are irreconcilable.
Taking place over three non-consecutive but vitally important days for Amy, Dan, and their three sons, Come with Me is searing, entertaining, and unexpected—a dark comedy that is ultimately both a deeply romantic love story and a vivid tapestry of modern life.
From the Author:
I am a lifelong New Yorker, but my husband grew up on the Stanford campus and I have been a regular visitor to Northern California for over 30 years, witnessing the growth and domination of the tech industry and observing Silicon Valley up close. Several years ago, a family friend gave us a tour of Google in Mountain View and I decided I wanted to write about Silicon Valley culture through the eyes of a Sheryl Sandberg-type: a brilliant mature woman whose job was to corral a boy genius. The story morphed when I read a book in 2014 called Our Mathematical Universe: My Quest for the Ultimate Nature of Reality by Max Tegmark, which explores multiverse theory. It is Dr. Tegmark’s thesis that a) the universe is constantly splitting into multiple realities; and b) “Our external physical reality is a mathematical structure.” Those concepts blew my mind!
So entered stage left Amy, no longer super-successful Sheryl Sandberg, but now a harried mother of three with a depressed unemployed husband and a 19-year-old baby/boss named Donny who shares Dr. Tegmark’s beliefs. Because Donny is interested in multiverse theory and welcomes the concept that everything is math—as he is a mathematical genius—Donny believes he can develop an algorithm that will allow him access to the multiverse and harness it. And because he’s living in the Entrepreneurs’ dorm at Stanford, Donny wants to monetize all this. Now Amy is his guinea pig.
The story I wrote about Amy and Donny never sold. But the ideas took off! And like my character Dan, husband of Amy, I found myself on a years-long obsessive nose-dive into the world of the internet, into deep research and narrative-hunting. (As a professor of writing at The New School, I was also fortunate to have a series of marvelous graduate research assistants to help me figure out and find the stuff I was both blindly and passionately seeking). Palo Alto was my second backyard. My niece and nephews attended the local high school where sadly so many young students have taken their own lives; their experiences and an insightful article by Hannah Rosin in The Atlantic led me to the character of Kevin. Again, and again, real life pushed up against and then infiltrated my own imagination, until finally building this story felt more and more like excavation, the many layers taking place irl (in real life) somewhere out in the world and also inside the worlds in my head.
Ultimately, as a fiction writer, my life often feels like a series of multiverses. There’s the universe in which I live and work as a professor, a mother, wife, daughter, have friends, adventures, obligations, sorrows and losses, also fun. It’s a fairly stable reality. And then there are the crazy, streaming, invented narratives that are forever playing out inside my head, twisting and turning all day and night—my constant inner companions. To say that both these worlds are equally real to me would suggest madness; luckily, I’m not that far gone. But in terms of truth, and what the novelist Tim O’Brien’s called “story truth”—well for me, sometimes story truth wins out. It can go deeper and be more indelible, can get closer to the bone marrow of what it means to be human. I guess ultimately that is also what this book is about: how close we can get to the essentialness of being, which for this writer is both fictive and real, colored in rainbow shades of gray, and forever variable.