Beth Goobie, Flux (Victoria, BC: Orca Books, 2004).
The sequel is called Fixed.
I don't know what's wrong with me but I had a great deal of trouble following the details of this book, partially because Goobie managed what is quite a neat trick of talking about material changes in the world in spiritual terms and still managing to make it sound scientific. But I also had a terrible time trying to work out the Interior to the Outbacks--were they geographically placed? Did they reside in and out of the possible worlds through which Nellie moves? Only at the end, when its clear Nellie will have to walk to the Interior, did I become clear on the geography of the book.
That said, this really is very good, and is one of the few books I've read which uses a girl as protagonist who is not a facsimile of a boy--although ironically it creates a few problems in the smooth telling of the story--then again, that may be my own sexism [g]. I found the discussion of periods, breasts and under arm hair just not quite what I wanted to read.
Nellie lives on a world with two moons. Her mother is dead, she is living in the cracks of the world, and she is being harrassed by a gang of boys. Nellie is a devoted follower of the goddess and the goddesses' gift to her is the ability to move between possible worlds.
When the boy gang catches Nellie they discover scars on her head which frighten them. After her escape Deller their leader, begins to enter her life and when they are both caught in a church she takes him into a possible world to escape. From here Deller pulls her into his world of home comforts, a loving mother and a missing brother. Deller's mother is a tough cookie who has a lot to say about Deller's behaviour to a girl and one of the book's messages seems to be that nice boys do terrible things.
Nellie and Deller try to look for Deller's brother (who Nellie has seen in a laboratory) but Deller's revolutionary cell has been infiltrated by the police. Nellie barely escapes, but meets up with Deller and they both rescue his mother (who has been arrested).
In the course of all this Nellie discovers three things: one of her doubles seems to have even more movement through the worlds than she does, and begins to teach her to move between the Levels (and through the skins) without hurting the universe (here I found myself thinking of Philip Pullman's rather phallic Subtle Knife, Goobie seems to be saying in response "anything that you cut, that is alive, will scream"); that there is some sort of experiment going on to fix the series worlds' probabilities (shades of Pullman again) and third that the world Nellie lives in may be controlled by creatures from another dimension. This last is the least successful because it hints that Goobie will abandon the engineering, pure physics thought experiment of "what if movement through parallel worlds has consequences" and will opt for the old adventure chestnut of "the parents are evil aliens, let's over throw them and all will be well".
I'm only reading one or two books a day at the moment. As it was taking four or five each day to produce one book interesting enough to blog, I may only be blogging every second. Hopefully you'll have the patience to keep faith with me.