Don't worry- you get a do-over!

by Erin Mawn

I recently came across a “Choose Your Destiny” young adult novel at a thrift store. I always look at the children’s book section in all thrift stores, hoping to find an old favorite or something I’d heard about, or even something completely new to read and add to my collection. This book is titled “What if Everyone Knew Your Name” and it is one of the books in the “Choose Your Destiny” series that follows Haley Miller, an average teenager who has lots of adventures (and misadventures) during her high school years. Of course, she does not have any particular adventure unless you choose for her to have it. These books are modeled after the now-outdated "Choose Your Own Adventure" books.

I remember those type of books from my childhood, and it never really occurred to me that an author might choose to re-vamp the style for today’s young adult audience. But that is exactly what Liz Ruckdeschel and Sara James have done in these books which are quickly gaining popularity among teenage girls. There are currently seven books in the series, but even a single book can be read several different ways depending on the choices the reader makes.

The first time I read the book, I made the choices for Haley that I would make for myself, such as choosing the honors history class. The second time around, I based my choices on the opposite of what I would normally do and wondered to myself if my life would have actually played out that way in an alternate universe. The third and fourth times I read it, I just tried to choose the options I hadn’t before so that I could see how many different scenarios can be created from that first chapter. Because these books are intended for pre-teens and teens, there is nothing too risqué involved. The storyline asks you to choose whether Haley should ditch her history class for an art class, whether she should try out for the soccer team, which boy she should flirt with, etc.

If you’re liking this idea of choosing a destiny, then you should definitely check out Heather McElhatton’s book “Pretty Little Mistakes”. The book is subtitled “a do-over novel” because that’s exactly what it is. If you do not like how the story ended the first time you read it, then you can start all over again and make different (smarter?) choices to lead you to a new conclusion. The first difference between this book and the juvenile series is that this book is written entirely in second person point of view, so the main character is actually ‘you’. The second significant difference is that because this book is intended for adults, it does have some ‘adult’ situations in it.

The first time I read it, I ended up rich and famous, but I died lonely because I let my only true love get away. (This better not be a sign!) The second time I read it, I ended up unwittingly joining a cult after I dropped out of college. Hmmmmmm. I only got this book two days ago, but I foresee myself reading it many more times to see what other paths I can take. It will have to satisfy me until McElhatton’s new “choose your own ending” novel, titled “Million Little Mistakes” is released later this year. I also discovered, after some internet perusing, that there is another series of this type for adults called Miss Adventure by sisters Lilla and Nora Zuckerman. I plan to check those books out, as well.

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