What if your ex wrote a screenplay about your breakup? Even the most secure of people would experience some kind of anxiety over that. In Andrea J. Stein’s Typecast, this scenario sends preschool teacher Callie spiraling into her past. It does more than dredge up the past; it makes her question everything about the path she chose. If she could ponder those decisions on her own, maybe she’d come to the right answer. But add in a sister on bedrest, a nosy niece, and involved friends, and Callie feels more lost than ever.
Told in alternating times that show both the past relationship, what led to its demise, and Callie’s reckoning with the present, Typecast leads readers, and Callie, to think about the power of nostalgia versus the strength in trusting yourself.
The subplots of this novel are actually some of my favorite bits. It is so easy to lose yourself in a relationship, especially when you meet young and stay together for a long period of time. After leaving that relationship, you have to find yourself again. Callie, guilt-ridden and conflicted, skips that step. She floats along, from opportunity to opportunity, without ever really challenging herself to find who she is outside of her past relationship. That is sharply brought into focus when her sister and her sister’s family move in with her while their house is being renovated. Callie’s private life is quite suddenly on display, and she has to reckon with how little she’s actually moved on.
As a younger sister who is quite close with her older sister, I was deeply invested in the subplot of the sisters healing their broken relationship. The scenes with Callie and her niece, Zoe, really sparkle. It’s easier for Callie to be herself around Zoe and the kids she teaches, and these scenes demonstrate where Callie has grown over the years.
Callie is ultimately torn between revisiting her past and reconnecting with her ex and a new potential romantic partner. This emotional war really shows how hard it is to move on, not just from an individual person, but from your dreams with that person and who you are with that person. Being vulnerable with someone new is difficult, and involves a lot of risk. As Callie wrestles with if she made the right decision to break up with her ex ten years ago, she has to decide which future is best for herself.
Typecast is available now. Thank you to author Andrea Stein, NetGalley, and Girl Friday books for an advanced copy such that I could share this review.