I wasn’t quite sure what I was getting myself into when I started this book. The story opens with Amanda Greene opening her eyes the morning after a huge fight with her boyfriend and a night of partying. Originally attributing her sense of disorientation to her having had “too much vodka on an empty stomach,” Amanda realizes that the world–and life–that she knew were not quite the same as they were the night before. We follow Amanda through what she believes is her first day of college, except that her schedule does not match that for which she signed up: she’s scheduled for History class, her most loathed subject. Upon arriving at her first class, she seats herself next to an attractive young man whose face seems familiar to her. They exchange a short, strained conversation until their professor, Mr. Totle arrives at the lectern…

The Quality of Writing:
I had never heard of Michael Phillip Cash prior to reading this novel but the title was the reason I decided to look more closely at the novella. I am incredibly glad that I decided to do so because the story presented here is as thought provoking as it is suspenseful and engaging. While many authors simply tell a story to a reader, Cash instead immerses his readers in the story of Amanda and allows us a glimpse into her head.

The Plot:
I initially thought the plot was confusing, but I realized that the point of this story is not to try to guess the ending but to immerse yourself in Amanda’s story and reach the ending hand-in-hand. Cash masterfully provides enough information to the reader to keep us engaged and to provoke thought.

The Characters:
-Amanda: A typical college girl with a complicated past, Amanda is a prime example of humanity. Seeking acceptance and safety in a world that has handed her a shitty hand, Amanda connects with readers of all types because she truly epitomizes the idea that a person can do a bad thing, but not be a bad person.
-Patrick: While not a main character, through Amanda’s eyes we see that Patrick is an exceptional person. Always supportive and protective, he is one of the few people with whom Amanda feels safe.
-Nick: Amanda’s initial impression of Nick is one of dislike; however, as the story progresses, Amanda begins to trust him (unlike me).
-Mr. Totle: Filled with arrogance and misogyny in equal measure, Mr. Totle embodies both impatience and irascibility.

Overall Opinion: [[Beware of spoilers]]
Only after reading the story twice could I decide whether or not I enjoyed it. I have come to the conclusion that I did. The plot was engaging, and I found myself over-identifying with Amanda. Using the philosophical works of Aristotle–namely his law of association–to draw connections between the historical past and Amanda’s past made the story immensely thought-provoking. The George Santayana quote Cash uses prior to the start of Chapter 1 summarizes one of the main themes of the story: “Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” The one thing that I took away from this story? One must truly understand that our past makes us who we are, and only by learning from it can we grow and become our best self, the self that we are meant to be.

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