Lionel Shriver’s, The Post Birthday World
When my sister first handed me a copy of The Post Birthday World by Lionel Shriver, I had no idea the book would change the way I look at the world and how I experience relationships.
Throughout her story, Shriver describes in alternating chapters the impact one decision can have on a life. She eloquently depicts the journey of a woman who from the first must decide whether or not she will remain faithful to her partner. Shriver then tells the story from the point of view of having made each decision on a back and forth, chapter by chapter basis. The reader gets an intimate, rotating picture of the impact each choice makes on the characters lives.
Shriver brings humanity to morally ambiguous situations. She reveals various depths of human experience through her vibrant and emotional characters. Readers get to experience a life journey from multiple angles with subsequent interweaving narratives revealing the complexities and scope of human emotion. What truly sets Shriver’s work apart is that she doesn’t make a judgement on which journey is the correct path to follow. She lets the action unfold on parallel planes and proves that while one decision can alter the course of a life, life continues to move forward.
In the past I’ve viewed romantic outcomes as finite. I thought there was only one correct choice to make, and that once a choice is made, the outcome of a relationship is determined. The Post Birthday World reveals that as we navigate our lives and romantic decisions, there is not one predetermined route to happiness. Every choice sets a person down a path, but that path is negotiable, and each person gets to choose his or her own adventure.
Shriver’s magnificent work illustrates a stunning example of life unfolding unexpectedly. She takes readers on two separate journeys and proves thatthat no matter which road anyone chooses to take, there will be both pain and beauty along the way. Such is life, and it is ours for the taking.