Life Can Only Be Understood Backwards, But Must Be Lived Forwards
By Christian Kiefer
Bloomsbury, $26.00, 392 pages
Engineering genius Keith Corcoran achieves his dream of becoming an astronaut, but such singular focus results in a peripheral family life. His gifted daughter, Quinn, inherits an intuitive understanding of numbers; seeing numbers as colors, but even this shared gift is not enough to bridge the divide in their relationship. Keith’s ambition culminates on the International Space Station, but his trajectory changes when devastating news from home interrupts the mission. He returns to earth adrift — paralyzed by the enormity of his empty life: an untethered soul crippled by loss and migraine headaches. Stuck in the unknown monotony of suburbia, the logic of numbers and equations isn’t able to supply the answers he seeks. He is haunted by the past. Neighbors become unlikely friends helping Keith navigate the alien world in which he finds himself.
In Infinite Tides author Christian Kiefer creates a unique protagonist sharing his story through the language of mathematics. At times the story moves slowly, but the intimate descriptions of the universe, grief, and even migraine headaches engage the reader. The book is a story about loss, but also about disillusionment and understanding, ultimately it is about letting go. The book’s final pages must be re-read to grasp both the simplicity and the gravity of the ending.
Reviewed by Julie Finley