I Hope You Get This Message
“I Hope You Get This Message delivers a nicely woven tapestry of faith tested, morals questioned, and the power of hope.”
Set in the midst of the countdown to the end of the world, Farah Naz Rishi’s I Hope You Get This Message delivers a hopeful message of tolerance and humanity.
While the setup is almost painfully contrived—aliens who once lived on Earth and “accidentally” caused humans to evolve left behind a viral time bomb that will be activated in seven days, destroying all humans and allowing the aliens to leave their own dying planet to return to Earth and resurrect it from the almost-lethal damage humans have inflicted upon it while also reclaiming Earth as their home—the journeys of the three main characters make for an enticing read.
These three teens represent a cross section of outcasts. Jesse, whose dad died, leaves him and his mother so broke that despite both of them working he has to steal bread when there’s no food in the house. He’s also emotionally broken, having tried to kill himself after his dad’s single-car (and suspected suicide) wreck, his depression leaving him so numb that he immerses himself in short-lived flings with the boys who visit Roswell, but never allowing true relationships to form. At least, not until the alien doomsday countdown begins and Jesse meets a boy who just might be able to breach his defenses and touch his heart.
Traveling to Roswell, which becomes a natural destination for end of the world tourists, are two others who have their own non-alien reasons to make the journey to the alien-capital of the world. One is Cate, desperate to meet the father who abandoned her when she was young, hoping that he can help her schizophrenic mother reconnect with reality before it’s too late. The other is computer and ham-radio genius Adeem who is searching for his sister who ran away from home after coming out as a lesbian.
“When something’s meant to be,” Adeem’s sister tells him before she leaves home, “the universe always has a way of sending you a message.” He takes this to heart, leaving the safety and comfort of home, to find her and hopefully reunite her with their parents before the countdown ends.
Grappling with issues of sexuality, religion, mental illness, poverty, bigotry, parental abandonment, and bullying are difficult enough on any given normal day but mix them into the panic and chaos that come with the impending doomsday and a challenging road trip ensues.
Coincidences abound, but despite that, I Hope You Get This Message delivers a nicely woven tapestry of faith tested, morals questioned, and the power of hope.
As Jesse’s love interest tells him, “Hope gives people something to hold on to. It makes them feel better. It gives them a reason to keep fighting.”