Literature is full of families torn apart by tragedy—death, war, crime. But what if the members of a family can’t agree on the cause of the tragedy that divides them?
In Mike Chen’s new novel, Light Years from Home, sisters Kass and Evie agree that their brother Jacob vanished 15 years ago. But did he runaway to party to his heart’s content, as Kass believes, or was he abducted by aliens, as Evie thinks? Their starkly different interpretations of the facts exacerbates the pain and tragedy of their brother’s disappearance, pushing the family to the point of breaking.
“One of the things that I really wanted to show was how a single moment can really change the trajectory of people’s lives,” Chen on New Books in Science Fiction. Jacob’s disappearance “fundamentally changes the direction of this family. Kass has this attitude of ‘if no one else is going to fix it, I am going to fix it.’ And Evie has the same attitude, except she thinks about it as ‘I’m going to fix it by going with my dad on like these UFO hunts, and we’re going to find my brother’ and their mom
wants to just move forward because that’s the only way that she knows how to do it. … They’ve all gone in a completely different angle because this disaster has happened to them and none of them know the truth.”