Some of my favorite books growing up were the Choose Your Own Adventure stories. It was so thrilling to feel a part of the book, choosing what path to take next. I was really excited recently that there was adult version of this adventure genre, written by Heather McElhatton. I should have been warned by the title, Pretty Little Mistakes, but as the bookjacket suggests, there are 150 possible endings, each one of them incredibly dark.
The very first choice you are given is what to do after your high school graduation, although it’s not necessarily mentioned, there is the assumption that you are a young woman. Will you follow your high school boyfriend to college, or will you take some time off and possibly travel? When I first picked the book, there seemed to be quite some heft. It was deceiving though, in a book with almost 500 pages it took about 15 minutes to get to the end. So I decided to read it twice, and from the very beginning, I chose once to follow my boyfriend to college, the next time I chose to take time off.
None of these choices, or the path I took seemed logical to me. Again, going back to my remembered experiences of Choose Your Own Adventure, I loved feeling part of the story. In this book I kept thinking, wait, what?? I would never do that! Not even in my wildest imagination would any of this have happened to me. The first time I read through the book I first went to college, I ended up studying at Berkley, but in order to keep up with my work I started using “trucker speed”. This must have been a gateway drug, as it led to using crystal meth. I eventually decided to work with Doctors Without Borders, and was quickly and tragically killed while picking up my dry cleaning. Wow!
This seemed like a freak accident, so when I read the book again, I decided to take some time off after my school graduation. Again, this path took me to school in Berkley, as I had followed friends out to California. I crossed paths with the same character as before, a boyfriend I dated in both runs through the story. I got involved with David, who was a fellow med school student and meth manufacturer. He was not someone I would have ever encountered in real life (at least I would hope), and in both trips through the story I encountered violence and a sexual assault. In the second story I was a doctor who was killed by a terrorist bombing in Chad.
The suggestion of “mistakes” in the title make it seem that these are mistakes anyone could have made. Definitely not in my life! McElhatton also published Million Little Mistakes, taking the reader through an interesting life after winning a $22 million lottery jackpot. What would you do??