There are past events in the lives of almost all of us we wish we could change especially if the event was tragic, resulting in the death of someone we loved. Such trauma leads to soul-searching, trying to find a reason that makes sense of something that strikes us as senseless.
Portals, at its core, explores a simple question: If I could change the past, would I?
It sounds like a simple question. As the novel reveals, it isn't.
Wrapped up in the eight small words encompassing this question is the sum of our personal world view, the lens through which we interpret the world around us. Key to our perspective is what we believe or don't believe about God.
If we believe we are a product of time and chance working the miracle of life upon the material universe unguided, then how we respond to the question might be quite different from someone who contends that a loving God is actively concerned with our personal welfare ? in spite of any appearance to the contrary.
For Jesse, the question is no longer rhetorical. His wife, Ellen, drowned in Stillman's Lake when the two were celebrating their sixth anniversary . Now, three years later, Jesse is given a chance to go back and change the events of that fateful day.
As with our own, Jesse's world is made up of other people, each with his or her personal world view. Each with his or her own perspective on the questions we all have about where we came from, why we're here and what the future may hold. It is through the hearts, minds, experiences, words and actions of these other individuals some close to Jesse and others of more casual acquaintance that Portals gives an opportunity to explore the merits of the varied opinions.