Self-Portrait with Nothing

- Aimee Pokwatka

Goodreads Book Blurb:

If a picture paints a thousand worlds…

Abandoned as an infant on the local veterinarian’s front porch, Pepper Rafferty was raised by two loving mothers, and now at thirty-six is married to the stable, supportive Ike. She’s never told anyone that at fifteen she discovered the identity of her biological mother.

That’s because her birth mother is Ula Frost, a reclusive painter famous for the outrageous claims that her portraits summon their subjects’ doppelgangers from parallel universes.

Researching the rumors, Pepper couldn’t help but wonder:
Was there a parallel universe in which she was more confident, more accomplished, better able to accept love?
A universe in which Ula decided she was worth keeping?
A universe in which Ula’s rejection didn’t still hurt too much to share?

Sometimes living our best life means embracing the imperfect one we already have…

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My Review:

***Thanks to NetGalley and Tordotcom for an eARC of this book. The following review is my honest reflection on the text provided.

solid, good read:
4/5
I spent this entire book trying to figure out what it was about. I’m still not totally sure, but I know I really enjoyed it.

This is probably the first ‘wandering’ narrative I’ve enjoyed in a long time. Of course, it helps that Pepper’s inability to focus is due to her self-denial and that she’s pretty open about it. It also helps that everything she focuses on instead of what she should be is pretty interesting. Pepper is kind of like Temperance Brennan from Bones, her husband is a historian who reads journals of dead people and spouts the most random information at all times, her adoptive mothers are vets, and her biological mother is an artist who brings doppelgängers from alternate timelines together – was Pokwatka thinking of me when she wrote this? It seems oddly specific to many of my interests…

but just in case
and with the acknowledgment that i'm bad at words
this universe with us together
definitely my favourite universe
and i love you like a snake loves the sun

Complex and unique in a way that not many books achieve these days, I could not recommend Self-Portrait with Nothing more highly.

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