Graduating into the long maw of an American recession, Sneha's moved to Milwaukee for an entry-level corporate job that, grueling as it may be, is the key that unlocks every door: she can pick up the tab at dinner with her new friend Tig, get her college buddy Thom hired alongside her, and send money to her parents back in India. She begins dating women—soon developing a burning crush on Marina, a beguiling and beautiful dancer who always seems just out of reach. But before long, trouble arrives. Painful secrets rear their heads; jobs go off the rails; evictions loom.
... polished ... Recounting this heady time a decade or so later, Sneha is a magnetic teller of her tale of finding love, growing up, and summoning the power to change—and choose—her life. Kindred to Brandon Taylor’s stellar Real Life (2020), this novel burrows deep.
Perhaps it's too soon to say which books we'll look back on in 50 years as the ones that defined a generation, but Sarah Thankam Mathews' debut, a close-to-perfect coming-of-age romp, is surely a contender. Bitingly funny and sweetly earnest, it's one of those rare novels that feels just like life, its characters so specific in their desires and experiences that you're sure you've met them—or maybe you're about to ... In the manner of books that stay with you forever, All This Could Be Different is a singular story that extends beyond itself ... Lives are made up of so many ordinary moments, so many conflicting emotions, so many messes—some world-shattering, some mundane. It's all here in this funny, vibrant, heartbreaking book.
In her debut novel, Mathews achieves what so often seems to be impossible: a deeply felt 'novel of ideas,' for lack of a better phrase. Mathews somehow tackles the big abstractions—capitalism, gender, sexuality, Western individualism, etc.—while at the same time imbuing her characters with such real, flawed humanity that they seem ready to walk right off the page. Rarely is dialogue rendered so accurately ... In her prose, Mathews can be deeply moving at the same time that she is funny; she dips into slang in a way that feels lyrical and rhythmic ... If the novel seems to drag toward the end, this feels like a small, stingy criticism for a book that is, as a whole, beautifully written, lusciously felt, and marvelously envisioned ... Resplendent with intelligence, wit, and feeling.