sep1The Illusion of Separateness (Harper Collins) is the story of six complete strangers, whose lives unknowingly intertwine to affect each other’s destinies in monumental ways.

World War II is the central event connecting each of these people in ways they will never know. Van Booy narrates the novel from the perspective of each of the six main characters in alternating chapters. Each one tells his or her story, and it is up to the reader to figure out how each is connected to the next.

Both the reader and Van Booy’s characters are forced to navigate how the actions and even mere existence of one soul can affect another. One character, Harriet, upon the death of her grandfather muses “After Philip and I die; there will be no one left to remember Grandpa John and then no one left to remember us. None of this will have happened, except that it’s happening right now.” This quote encapsulates the exploration of life’s meaning and human connectedness portrayed in The Illusion of Separateness.

At parts, the story is slow, and it can feel like a long wait to get to the point. However, the lesson at the end is worthwhile. Van Booy’s story shows how distinctly we are all connected, even if we do not know it. And when the characters do know it, it is beautifully stated, “John knew his life had value, because he would die with someone to live for.” In this world, you can never be truly alone.

Arielle Sidrane is the Associate Editor of Spa Week Daily.