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REVIEW: Every Time We Meet – A.M. Leibowitz

REVIEW: Every Time We Meet - A.M. Leibowitz

Genre: Contemporary, Time Loop

LGBTQ+ Category: Bi, Lesbian, Non-Binary

Reviewer: Devon

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About The Book

A. M. Leibowitz’s first and highly-anticipated women-loving-women romance!

Heidi’s life may be a complicated balancing act between work, her kids, and a messy relationship with her ex. But all that is about to change when she proposes to her long-time girlfriend at the top of the hill during the annual Lilac Festival. What could be more romantic?

When nothing about her day goes according to plan, and her proposal is rejected, Heidi is devastated. She confesses her one wish to a stranger on a park bench: to have the whole day over again. Little does she know, this will set her on an endless loop of reliving it, each time hoping for a different outcome.

As Heidi replays the events, she confronts her own poor choices and actions. Now she must figure out how to make things right if she hopes to break the cycle and find true love before time runs out.

The Review

Have you ever had one of those days? A day you thought you had planned out perfectly that ended up going wrong in every possible way. Wouldn’t it be great to have a redo? To start the day fresh and try again?

Heidi, the protagonist of A. M. Leibowitz’s Every Time We Meet, seems to have an awful lot of those kinds of days. As a single mom of three active kids, she often finds herself dashing from one extra-curricular activity to another with hardly a moment to pause and catch her own breath. Rather than provide the hands-on parenting help Heidi needs, her ex-husband is preoccupied with his new wife and baby, and even though Heidi has a long-term partner of her own (her daughter Jilly’s viola teacher, Cass), it’s clear that she feels like she has to deal with everything on her own.

At the start of Every Time We Meet, Heidi seems to have more or less surrendered herself to the disorder of her life. However, when her day goes from bad (getting caught in the rain on the way to her eldest daughter Kate’s softball game) to worse (missing Kate’s home run hit, rushing to get her son Max from his rehearsal, and forgetting to bring a dessert to Jilly’s viola concert) to disaster (getting dumped by her girlfriend after a failed marriage proposal), Heidi wishes that she could have a do-over. A second chance to get the day right.

Normally, a wish is just a wish. But a wish made on a lilac during the Lilac Festival in the presence of the mysterious (and attractive) indie rock radio host Angel Flores? A wish like that couldn’t help but come true.

When Heidi wakes up the next day, it isn’t the next day at all. It’s the same exact hectic day she’s just lived through… except for a few tweaks. Heidi doesn’t actually realize that she’s already lived through this day, but she does realize that something’s off. For instance, she knows she’s preparing to propose that day to the person she’s been dating… but who exactly is that again?

And so begins Heidi’s time loop. Every time she wakes, she begins the same day again, but each time preparing to propose to a different person, oftentimes one she struggles to even remember. With each day, she’s able to pull off each of her kids’ activities with varying success, but her proposal always, always fails and her day always ends at the Lilac Festival with Angel Flores. As the day repeats, Heidi slowly begins to realize what is happening to her and in doing so begins to focus on what she actually wants to get out of this one crazy, hectic, potential-filled day.

I found Heidi to be a pretty relatable protagonist. She was clearly completely overwhelmed in her life but still trying to do her best for her kids and partner. It also seems like Heidi feels that all of the disorder in her life is her own fault, which we as readers can see isn’t entirely true. Yes, she should probably be asking for more support from the people around her, but otherwise, she really is doing her best with the limited energy and resources she has.

I also really liked how Heidi’s bisexuality wasn’t treated like a big deal within the narrative but was still clearly a very important part of her identity. Everyone in Heidi’s life was perfectly accepting of her regardless of who she happened to be dating on that particular version of the day. With so much of the rest of her life in disarray, it was nice that Heidi didn’t have to deal with any snide comments or judgment based on who she was dating.

For me, “repeating day” stories can be hit or miss, but I typically enjoy seeing how the same day can play out differently as the person trapped in the loop grows and changes. One of my favorite examples is the movie Groundhog Day.

However, I feel like Every Time We Meet doesn’t quite completely satisfy as a “repeating day” story. Apart from Heidi’s partner, the changes with each iteration of her day are pretty subtle, which can make reading through each day feel repetitive. This is amplified by the fact that the day in question isn’t really all that exciting. It’s an overwhelming day for sure, but most of the action involves Heidi going to watch one kid’s activity to the next.

Despite this repetitiveness, I still enjoyed following along as Heidi worked toward a perfect day. It was especially fun to see who she would wind up dating in each version of the day because the person often ended up being someone she had met during a previous day cycle, such as the various single moms and dads she encounters at her kids’ activities.

I also really liked the ending and how Heidi seems to finally be at a calmer place in her life. I appreciated that the last, true version of the day took Heidi back to dating her original partner (Cass) but that she ultimately ends up with the person she had the most chemistry with overall—whose identity I’ll leave you to discover when you read Every Time We Meet for yourself 😉

The Reviewer

Devon Widmer is a grumpy scientist by day, a scribbling daydreamer by night, and a sleep-deprived parent full-time. She recently graduated with a PhD in Chemistry, a degree which she plans to put to good use reading and writing a multitude of science fiction (and fantasy) stories. Devon’s talents include drinking copious amounts of coffee, forgetting where she set her glasses, and laughing at her own jokes. Also, although she often describes herself as grumpy, she promises she’s actually quite nice!  

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