It ought to be real. An app that allows time travel for busy women, which allows you to both stay late at work for a meeting that’s vital for your career AND go to your kid’s soccer game or guitar recital. Or have time to go grocery shopping and run errands without resenting the time it takes. There should be an app for that. I know I personally could use one. Just think how much easier your life would be if you had an extra 6 hours a day that no one else had, and that no one else knew about so that they couldn’t try to overbook that too.
Jennifer really could use some extra hours. She’s a single mum, struggling to juggle her kids’ schedules with a demanding boss who is turning the non-profit job she loved into something more like 80 hours a week. Her ex is insisting that they re-visit their custody arrangement, although the thought of seeing her boys less often is a dagger in her heart. Her boss is threatening to fire her if she can’t fit in the extra hours. And she’s missing all the special moments in her kids’ lives, letting the babysitter watch them play sports and pick them up from school. When she loses her phone, she panics, but it’s returned to her with a mysterious note stating that the finder has taken the liberty of adding a time-travel app to her phone.
Jennifer assumes the Wishful Thinking app is just that–wishful thinking–and imagines a silly app in which she and other working mothers have virtual lattes in a virtual cafe while actually putting in the hours at work. But when she types in her coordinates, she’s told to go someplace where no one can see her, and finds herself transported from her office to a broom closet in the building where her son’s guitar recital is about to take place. After it’s finished, she hides herself in a public toilet and is transported back to the office in plenty of time to grab a pumpkin-spice latte and earn brownie points with the boss by staying late.
That evening, buoyed by how happy her boys were to see her, Jennifer returns home only to realize the app has disappeared. That night, she receives a visit from a woman whom she’s glimpsed about the neighbourhood, only to learn that she’s a renowned physicist who has discovered a way to travel between times using wormholes in space and something called quantum foam. Jennifer pleads with her to allow her to keep the app and she does. Fast forward a few months. Jennifer is more exhausted than ever–the app allows time travel but you still live all the hours, so she puts in 12-hour day at the office before time traveling back 5 hours to spend the afternoon and evening with her kids. Her boys and her ex-husband think she’s gotten a new flex-time job. The other moms think she’s practically a stay-at-home mother herself, with all the play dates and coffee times. Her boss is pleased, and her colleagues bemused, by the fact that she never seems to go home but is always there. And Jennifer needs to keep all the parts of her life separate so that no one ever finds out. On the other hand, she does have it all–and sometimes she even uses the app to catch up a bit on her sleep. (True confessions time: I would do that every day. Naps for all!)
Of course something’s got to give eventually, and it’s to author Kamy Wicoff’s credit that it gives in a way you don’t expect. By the end of the novel, Jennifer has learned some important life lessons, but not in a heavy-handed moralizing way. Wishful Thinking is a delightful read, a commentary on our busy, fragmented modern lives that manages to be entertaining and a bit thought-provoking too. There are no easy answers, but sometimes life just has to be lived.