Sensory Time Warp Syndrome (STWS) has plagued Aimee Roh since she was a young girl. This enigmatic condition makes her physically travel back in time to moments from her past that are connected to certain smells. Her episodes are typically short and sporadic, until one lasts nine hours and raises new questions concerning her estranged mom, who left when Aimee was six. When her dad won’t give her answers, Aimee makes her way from Vancouver to Korea—where her parents emigrated from—to investigate.
Aimee’s first-person narration is augmented with journal entries, forum threads and text messages scattered throughout The Space Between Here & Now. These honest, firsthand glimpses of Aimee’s life allow the novel’s portrayal of interpersonal disconnection and heartbreak to shine. Instead of centering the magic of the syndrome, author Sarah Suk (Made in Korea) anchors the uncanny concept of STWS in the harsh reality of living with an incurable chronic condition.
Aimee feels isolated and abnormal because of her STWS, and her curiosity and impulsiveness drive her desire to find a cure. On the other hand, her father insists STWS is just a “phase,” clinging to the fact that a doctor once told him that many people “grow out of” it. He withdraws from Aimee’s cries for help and rarely reveals his own emotions or experiences as a single father. Despite grappling with realistic issues and personal flaws, both characters eventually grow in ways that feel true to life. Readers will cheer for them all the way.
The Space Between Here & Now is an intriguing mix of fantasy and realism that lures readers in with the promise of magic and keeps them engaged with emotionally resonant themes. If you’re looking for a fun, mature coming-of-age story rooted in nuanced emotions and relationships, this book is for you.