I Hope You Get This Message is, unsurprisingly, a message of hope. But it’s even more than that. Set in a SF setting, I Hope You Get This Message is quiet, introspective, character driven. It’s about family and forgiveness in the shadow of the end of the world.
News stations across the country are reporting mysterious messages that Earth has been receiving from a planet—Alma—claiming to be its creator. If they’re being interpreted correctly, in seven days Alma will hit the kill switch on their “colony” Earth.
True or not, for teenagers Jesse Hewitt, Cate Collins, and Adeem Khan, the prospect of this ticking time bomb will change their lives forever.
Jesse, who has been dealt one bad blow after another, wonders if it even matters what happens to the world. Cate, on the other hand, is desperate to use this time to find the father she never met. And Adeem, who hasn’t spoken to his estranged sister in years, must find out if he has it in him to forgive her for leaving.
With only a week to face their truths and right their wrongs, Jesse, Cate, and Adeem’s paths collide as their worlds are pulled apart.
(Disclaimer: I received this book from Edelweiss. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)
TW: a past of self harm
I Hope You Get This Message begins with a trial. With deliberation and potential. Throughout the book I was consistently impressed with Rishi’s cleverness, the way the end of the world is woven into the story. When, at the end of the day, it’s a book about wanting to be heard. To be forgiven for our mistakes, to voice our regrets, and to speak our truths. The characters propel this story which expertly balances quiet stakes with the impending end of the world.
Whether it be Jesse’s lack of attachment because of his fear of disappointment and getting hurt, or Cate’s immense responsibility taking care of her mother, or Adeem’s unanswered questions, I Hope You Get This Message is full of intricate characters. As each of the characters embark on a quest at the end of the world, without even knowing it, we are asked what would we say if we knew the world was going to end? I Hope You Get This Message also features some fabulous rep not only of queerness, Jesse is gay, but also Cate’s experiences with her mother who has schizophrenia. There’s also a lesbian side character.
Even in the face of the end of the world, there are still secrets to be discovered. I Hope You Get This Message has moments of wistfull-ness. Moments where the plain wanting to be heard strikes a chord deep within you. Or even moments where the fear and doubt cut through you. Yet, throughout, even we are asking whether the world will truly end. As some prepare for their final moments, making ammends, and saying sorry, is this truly the end? And what will happen if it isn’t?
I know there’s the idea to live every day as if it’s our last, but actually living that way is beyond difficult. I Hope You Get This Message is a book grounded in message. In hopes against all odds. Of finding an answer in the midst of a fog. Our characters basking in the last light from a dying star illuminating our scars. A flare going up in the night. What will it cast light on? Our moments of solidarity? The end of the world means something different for everyone and we’re asked if nothing or everything matters.