How It Works Out finds meaning in the multiverse

How It Works Out needs a reader who understands that love isn’t always pretty — that attraction can strip someone down to their most raw and animalistic state.

In her debut novel, Myriam Lacroix imagines a love story that moves through the multiverse — and despite Lacroix only having her words to work with, it’s just as thrilling as thematically similar works like Everything Everywhere All at Once.

Not all of these universes are pleasant. Lacroix sets the relationship against unsettling backdrops, from cannibalistic tendencies to capitalist dystopias, and leans into grotesque imagery — which toes the line of body horror, at times — to depict the intensity of Myriam and Allison’s devotion to each other. The book is difficult to read, but even harder to put down.

Lacroix graduated from UBC with a BA in creative writing. She then got her MFA from Syracuse University, where she received the New York Public Humanities Fellowship for creating Out-Front, an LGBTQIA+ writing group with a focus on expanding Queer writing.

Woven throughout the novel is commentary on Queer relationships and common questions that surround them. In one universe, Myriam and Allison are authors of a bestselling book on lesbian relationships, questioning whether they should conform to the institution of marriage. In another, they adopt a child and stumble through parenthood (for reasons more absurd than just being Queer).

Lacroix and How It Works Out’s Myriam sharing a name isn’t a coincidence. In an interview for Otherppl podcast, Lacroix explains how the book was written in a “self-mythologizing way” — with her writing absurd stories about herself and seeing just how much she could convince readers to actually believe.

In a universe of advanced climate catastrophe, Myriam is the CEO of a respirator company reflecting on her relationship with power.

“If I’m not making any decisions, then I can’t be bad,” her character remarks. “For a few minutes or hours, I’m absolved.”

In this sentence, the purpose of How It Works Out becomes clear: the book is a chance for Lacroix to create a version of herself that can experiment with actions and ideas that she wouldn’t dare touch in our reality.

As the reader moves through universes, they see both Myriam and Allison portrayed as the villain and the victim. Both women have chances to narrate and reshape the reader’s perception of the other, mirroring the pursuit of control that is prominent in their relationship.

But regardless of any conflict between them, in each of these scenarios, a constant remains: no matter who they are, they love each other. It’s messy, it’s toxic — but it’s also inevitable.

“I guess if there was a meaning to life,” Allison says, “maybe it’d be love.”

How It Works Out came out on May 21.