He Could Be Another Bill Gates is actually a continuation of another one of Donna Levin’s novels that follows the same family. I haven’t read the previous book, but was able to follow He Could Be Another Bill Gates regardless. The family consists of Anna Kagen, a recently single mother co-parenting her two children with her ex-husband, Alex. Her son, Jack, is a 16 year old with Asperger’s and her daughter, Marissa, is a ‘gifted’ 5 year old. The story centers on themes of family and change – Anna navigating her life after divorce and reconnecting with a man from her past, Jack exploring life as a teenager and dealing with feelings he has for a popular girl from school, and Marissa attempting to understand what it means to be ‘gifted’ at such a young age and learning about the repercussions of decisions she makes.
Levin writes the story from all of their perspectives, as well as the girl Jack has feelings for, so we get insight into the inner thought processes of each of these characters. Writing each of the diverse points of view – different ages and challenges – was really well done. My favorite characters to follow were actually the kids, Jack and Marissa. Jack and Marissa were very sweet characters; Marissa’s 5 year old innocence and comprehension and Jack’s processing of his teenage feelings through the lense of the autism spectrum were particularly endearing. Levin’s writing on family and the changes they go through felt very realistic, though it took me awhile to really get engaged with the story line. Events did ramp up in the last 15% of the book as issues came to resolution. I also have to comment that the novel could have benefited from another round of editing. Some of the character names were confused and I found some of the changes in character points of view hard to follow.
Join us in Toronto, Canada on April 3rd as GBC Founder, Erin Woodward, sits down with authors Pam Jenoff, Molly Fader, and Hannah Mary McKinnon for a panel discussion and Q&A. 100% of proceeds will be donated to Canadian Women’s Foundation.