Repeat by Neal Pollack features Brad Cohen, a nearly forty-year-old mostly-failed television writer in Hollywood, California. He has a wife and two young daughters he loves, but everything else in his life is a huge disappointment. On the eve of his fortieth birthday, something very strange happens. He falls asleep and when he wakes, he is in... his mother's womb. Somehow, Brad has found himself back at the very beginning of his own life. Also very strange- he remembers everything. How long will he be doomed- for he does feel doomed- to repeat his own life?
Brad explains his existence to another character as being a little like Groundhog Day, except that instead of repeating the same day over and over again, it is the same forty years over and over again. Brad knows every major event that will happen until 2010. He makes investments and bets, he predicts the rise and fall of governments and politicians. Sometimes he improves his own life by following dreams he has always had and sometimes he makes a mess of his own life. I think we have all thought about how we would do things differently if we could just go back, but Repeat shows us that it might not be the utopia we'd hope.
I liked this book and for me it was a quick read. Once I got to the second half of the book, I just couldn't stand to put it down and finished it as quickly as I could. There were a few parts that I wish had been omitted. Brad's second time through puberty was a little too descriptive for me, but I suppose it was realistic. This book was a bit similar to The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August, but I didn't like it quite as much. ...Harry August had more purpose and more mystery, but Repeat was still fun to read.Parts of this book sound as though they may have been a bit autobiographical: according to the 'About the Author' section, Pollack is a certified yoga instructor and a three-time Jeopardy! champion. I thought that was pretty cool.
This is the kind of book that would elicit an interesting discussion. We only get one life and I've always believed that is what makes our decisions, our life choices, so important. If we could do this more than once, it wouldn't matter what we chose, but life isn't like that. We do have to choose and sometimes we are unhappy with those choices, but they make us who we are.