Sea Change starts out in a beautiful meadow, with Guy and Judy and their four-year-old daughter having a little picnic. (If you’ve read the back cover before opening the book, you know to imagine ominous music playing over this idyllic scene).
A horse appears, looking a little off. And then it tramples the little four-year-old to death.
A happy way to start a book indeed. And if you need an extra dose of jolliness, Guy and Judy separate soon after. (Fifteen pages in and you’ve got the death of a child and a ruined marriage. If you cope with sadness by drinking, now is the time to break out the alcohol).
Guy gets a boat and spends the next several years sailing by day and by night writing his life as it might have been if Freya hadn’t died. In his imaginary life, he and his wife are still together and the three of them are taking a road trip across the American South.
The book itself didn’t really speak to me (I grow weary of boating – at least reading about boating – quickly, it appears), but I loved thinking about how different my life could be if one small thing was changed.
What if I had lived in a different dorm at BYU (I met Bart through my roommate, Sherry, who worked with him on campus)? What if we’d had a baby right away, instead of waiting five years (I could easily have three children by now)? What if my parents hadn’t moved to Las Vegas when I was a child and I’d grown up in Wisconsin? What if we’d decided to live in a different area of Austin?
I could play this game all day. I kind of love the idea of following out the thread of one or more of those options and imagining in detail what my life would look like today.