After nearly drowning, eight-year-old Maeve Wilhelm falls into a strange comatose state. As years pass, it becomes clear that Maeve is not physically aging. A wide cast of characters finds themselves pulled toward Maeve, each believing that her mysterious “sleep” holds the answers to their life’s most pressing questions: Kevin Marks, a museum owner obsessed with preservation; Monique Gray, a refugee and performance artist; Lionel Wilhelm, an entomologist who dreamed of being an astrophysicist; and Evangeline Wilhelm, Maeve’s identical twin. As Maeve remains asleep, the characters grapple with a mysterious new technology and medical advances that promise to ease anxiety and end pain, but instead cause devastating side effects.
Weaving together speculative elements and classic fables, and exploring urgent issues from the opioid epidemic to the hazards of biotech to the obsession with self-improvement and remaining forever young, Rebekah Bergman’s The Museum of Human History is a brilliant and fascinating novel about how time shapes us, asking what—if anything—we would be without it.