3 Sentence Summary
“The Measure” by Nikki Erlick is a 2022 novel which introduces a world where people receive mysterious boxes with strings representing their lifespans. The story unfolds through the lives of eight characters, each facing the choice of whether to reveal their fate, impacting their relationships and futures. Some embrace the knowledge, while others reject it.
Summary Read Time: Less than 5 minutes
Actual Book Length: 353
First Published in: 2022
Below is the detailed yet quick “The Measure” book summary:
The story unfolds in a society where people have “strings” that determine their lifespan. These strings have become a societal obsession, affecting everything from healthcare to personal relationships. Medical professionals grapple with ethical questions surrounding the treatment of “short-stringers.” The strings have become a point of contention, even affecting how emergency cases are prioritized.
Journalists like Deborah and Nina discuss the impact of a mass shooting carried out by a short-stringer. The media is torn between blaming the strings or societal issues like gun control.
Nina, an editor, is in a relationship with Maura, a Black woman with a short string. Nina fears that Maura’s string could affect her medical treatment, adding another layer of discrimination. Characters like Ben and Hank attend a support group for people dealing with the emotional toll of knowing their string length. Hank, a former ER doctor, is nearing the end of his string and finds solace in the group.
Ben engages in a mysterious letter exchange with an unknown person, adding a layer of intrigue. These letters become a source of emotional support for him.
Nina’s workplace is a microcosm of society’s varying attitudes towards the strings. While some haven’t looked at their strings, others are content or anxious about their findings.
The strings aren’t just a societal issue; they’re deeply personal. Hank reflects on the strength it takes to let go, while Nina struggles with her need for control in a world turned upside-down by the strings.
The strings have even entered the political arena, affecting debates and policies. Hank, although not particularly interested in politics, can’t ignore their impact on healthcare and other issues. The characters are united in their quest for answers about the strings. Are they a self-fulfilling prophecy, or do they genuinely dictate fate? The lack of clear answers leaves everyone in a state of existential unrest.
The strings have now started affecting legal matters like custody battles. A woman tries to gain full custody of her children, claiming her ex-husband’s short string makes him emotionally unstable.
Maura is increasingly frustrated with the burden placed on short-stringers to prove they are not dangerous. She questions why they are the only ones fighting for change. Nina continues to be a pillar of support for Maura. She suggests they go somewhere far away to escape the societal pressures they face.
Hank and others discuss the growing discrimination against short-stringers. They fear that one more violent incident could tip the scales against them. Sean, the support group leader, offers a different viewpoint. He believes that empathy can exist even among long-stringers, giving a glimmer of hope.
The strings have a significant impact on the military. The introduction of the STAR Initiative changes the lives and careers of soldiers like Jack and Javier. Nihal opens up about telling his parents about his short string. While they find solace in religious beliefs about rebirth, Nihal struggles with wanting more time in this life.
Javier feels the weight of his family legacy and the expectations that come with it. He decides he needs time away from the Hunter-Rollins family drama. Hank, nearing the end of his string, finds a moment of hope when he saves someone’s life. It’s a poignant reminder that even short-stringers can make a significant impact.
Jack grapples with his family’s role in the societal unrest. He questions the values and actions of his family, especially after a shooting at an anti-Rollins protest.
Maura passes away, leaving a profound impact on those who knew her. Nina delivers a heartfelt eulogy at her funeral, emphasizing Maura’s courage and the depth of their love despite its brevity.
Nina completes a book she had been working on, a compilation of stories inspired by the strings. She dedicates it to Maura and contemplates the importance of sharing these stories with the world.
Ben, who attends a support group, starts to think about the possibility of having children. Despite his short string, he contemplates the milestones he might still experience.
A significant rally against the Rollins family is conducted, who are the driving force behind the STAR Initiative. The rally marks a turning point in the public’s perception.
Jack, a soldier and a member of the Rollins family, disrupts a family event to speak out against their manipulative tactics. His actions are a bold statement against his family’s political agenda. Javier, another soldier, loses his life in a mission. His bravery is acknowledged, and he is remembered as a hero who made a difference despite his short string.
Anika, a civilian doctor, shares her perspective on the impact of short-stringers like Javier. She believes that the length of one’s string doesn’t define the depth of one’s impact. The world has been living with the strings for nearly a decade. People have started to accept them as a part of life, finding various ways to cope with the emotional and ethical dilemmas they pose.
Part 4 – “The Measure” Book Ending
While some find comfort in the predetermined nature of the strings, others, especially short-stringers, continue to struggle with the injustice and limitations they impose.
Nina remembers Maura’s advice to continue being the “rock” in their circle. She decides to focus on publishing her book and living her life to the fullest, honoring Maura’s memory.
Despite the acceptance and the coping mechanisms, the strings remain a mystery. They continue to challenge the characters’ understanding of fate, free will, and the value of life.