The protagonist of The Glitch, a debut novel from Elisabeth Cohen, is a type of character we’ve seen frequently, either in real life or in popular culture: the overworked, overscheduled having-it-all modern woman.
All right, so Shelley Stone might be taking things a little farther than most of us do. She’s the CEO of a tech company called Conch, whose product is an app that whispers in people’s ears about what they should be doing right now to make their lives better. She’s a wife and mother of two, and she believes she has it all under control. She’s scheduled her “me” time at 3:30 a.m. while she’s on the treadmill, she schedules sex with her husband when they’re already folding clothes together, and she takes naps while she’s standing in line. She has a nanny, a cook, a driver, an assistant, her kids are overscheduled (learning Mandarin, among other things), and she makes notes to herself to “practice being happy.” You just know from reading this far that something is going to come crashing down, and of course that’s the plot of the book.
The form of the crash is what makes it interesting. A young woman shows up, introducing herself as Shelley Stone. She has the same scar in the same place as our protagonist does, and she claims to be a younger version of Shelley, which she might actually be, except that Shelley doesn’t believe it’s possible. So what is this person? Is she a spy sent by some rival corporation to undermine Shelley’s company? Is she evidence that the space time continuum is springing a leak and about to disintegrate altogether? Or is her presence a sign that Shelley is finally cracking under the pressure?
For all of us who feel our lives are too complicated, who occasionally wonder what our younger self would say if she could see us now, for all of us who enjoyed the perspective shift of Liane Moriarty’s What Alice Forgot, for all of us who want a good laugh at ourselves and people like us, The Glitch is just what the doctor ordered.