Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

Playing with Time, a guest post by G. Z. Schmidt

In grade school, we were taught that a story has a beginning, middle, and end, and that the events always progress in a clear, chronological order. Me, I’ve always enjoyed stories that play around with time. Time travel, jumping across timelines, non-linear narratives. To quote the famous TV show Doctor Who, “People assume that time is a strict progression from cause to effect, but actually from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint, it’s more like a big ball of wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey… stuff.” The beginning and end for any story is arbitrary, if you think about it. 

My first middle grade novel, No Ordinary Thing, was a time traveling story. The book is told in a dual narrative, featuring two main characters. One lives in New York during the 1900s. The other lives in the same city a century later. Through the time traveling snow globe, the two characters meet at different stages in their lives.

Admittedly, writing such a book was a colossal challenge. I had to keep track of all the time jumps and dates, when the characters met, overlapping timelines, etc. This was in addition to the extensive amount of stuff that already needs attention when editing with a publisher, such as character development and pacing. Looking back, I’m not sure how I did it. 

In addition, time travel has an inherent paradox. It doesn’t always make sense when you think about it. But that’s part of the appeal (or challenge). I like stories that are more open-ended, stories that don’t fill in all the holes and leave things open to the reader’s interpretation. I enjoy magic realism, where the rules of the magic are not explained. 

Still, once I finished revisions for No Ordinary Thing, I told myself, Okay, no more time travel stories again!

Ironically, my second middle grade novel, The Dreamweavers, also jumps around in time, but in a different way. This book was easier to write because the narrative was much more straightforward. The Dreamweavers takes place in ancient China and follows a city that has fallen under a mysterious curse. Folks around the city know it as the City of Ashes—a forlorn place of abandoned homes and empty streets. Once upon a time, however, the city had been full of life and laughter. Through flashbacks, The Dreamweavers explores the tragic events that had happened to the city, and how the effects ripple across generations to the present day. 

This device is used in many of my favorite stories. The book Holes by Louis Sachar, for example, also spans across multiple generations. The book follows both the main character’s life, as well as his great-great-grandfather’s storyline. We see how events that happened nearly a century ago affect the present. One of my favorite TV shows, Avatar: The Last Airbender, also explores this idea. The Avatar is a master who has been reincarnated continually through previous lifetimes. Throughout the show, we see flashbacks of his previous lives, and how the mistakes of past leaders have influenced the future. 

There’s a popular quote that I live by: “Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it.” History is never truly in the past. You can zoom out thirty, fifty, five hundred years, and you’ll still find traces of the past in modern day life. Laws and concepts from ancient Rome are being applied even today. Government systems and landmarks are shaped from millenniums past. It’s impossible to live apart from the past, to view it as a forgotten relic.

That’s why I enjoy writing stories that explore how the past intertwines with the future. In The Dreamweavers, the mysterious curse that afflicted the City of Ashes is the same one that fell upon the descendants of a particular family line, due to a crime committed by one of their ancestors. The descendants are not responsible for their ancestor’s crime. At the same time, however, our actions do affect people in future generations. The Dreamweavers explores the nuances of this. No Ordinary Thing goes one step further such that future events impact the past, due to the implications of time travel, but the idea remains the same. All our moments in life are interconnected with other peoples’.  

Maybe one day I can be as skilled as Christopher Nolan, who brings non-linear storytelling to a whole new level in his mind-bending films. It might be a little while before I can write book in reverse.

Tenet (2020) - IMDb

Meet the author

A person smiling under a tree

Description automatically generated with low confidence

G. Z. Schmidt is the middle grade author of No Ordinary Thing and The Dreamweavers, which released in September 2021. She was born in China and immigrated to the U.S. when she was six. She grew up in the Midwest and the South, where she chased fireflies at night and listened occasionally for tornado/hurricane warnings. She received her BA in Economics from Wellesley College. She currently lives in Southern California with her husband and their tuxedo cat.

Website: https://gzwrites.com

About The Dreamweavers

Twin siblings journey through the City of Ashes and visit the Jade Rabbit to save their grandpa in this Chinese folklore-inspired fantasy adventure.

Since their parents’ strange disappearance several years ago, 12-year-old twins Mei and Yun have been raised by their grandfather, who makes the best mooncakes around using a secret ingredient.

On the day of the Mid-Autumn Harvest Festival, the emperor sends his son to sample Grandpa’s renowned mooncakes—but instead of tasting wonderful, they are horrible and bitter, strangely mirroring the odd, gloomy atmosphere and attitudes that have been washing over the village in the last few days. Grandpa is arrested for insulting and harming the prince, and Mei and Yun realize they are the only two people who will come to Grandpa’s aid.

The twins set out on foot for the long journey to the emperor’s palace where Grandpa’s being taken, but a surprising stop in the eerie City of Ashes, a visit with the legendary, mystical Jade Rabbit, and an encounter with a powerful poet whose enchanted words spread curses, influence just how Mei and Yun will manage to clear their grandfather’s name.

ISBN-13: 9780823444236
Publisher: Holiday House
Publication date: 09/14/2021
Age Range: 8 – 12 Years

Bringing a Historical Worldview to the Present, a guest post by Michelle I. Mason

I’ve always been fascinated by time travel, but have you ever noticed how most time travel stories follow a certain pattern?

Like, for example, Back to the Future (one of my personal favorites!):Doc Brown’s goal is to master time travel. Then Doc is killed, and Marty McFly travels to the past by accident. Now Marty spends the entire movie trying to find a way to return to the present.

Or, there’s the other kind of setup, like Doctor Who: A time traveler hops around to different moments, either visiting to learn something and encounter interesting people, or perhaps even to correct a wrong. But still, the end game is to return to the present. They almost never stay in the other time, unless there’s some sort of alternate reality situation.

Of course, there are exceptions. But after watching and reading countless time travel movies, TV shows, and books, I wanted to attempt something different. In Your Life Has Been Delayed, a group of people travel forward twenty-five years, but the end goal is to figure out how to live with what’s happened rather than return to their own time.

Which presented a new challenge. This book is not historical. Except for a few pages in the first chapter, it takes place entirely in the present, but the main character, a seventeen-year-old girl from 1995, has a historical worldview. So, the next step was figuring out how to imagine her reactions to life in an entirely new century.

As someone who lived through the nineties, I started by making my own list of things I thought had changed during the past twenty-five years, but then I had to dive into deeper research. Ask someone what year they started using a particular device regularly or watched a certain show, and they might tell you absolutely, one hundred percent, positively that they know. But when they look it up, they’re off by as many as five years. Because memory and time are tricky.

I tested this out at my launch party a couple of weeks ago with an audience participation game, testing their knowledge of what was around in Jenny’s world on Aug. 2, 1995. It was interesting to see answers from both those who lived through that time and those who’ve learned about it in school or from their parents.

Why don’t we see how all of you do? (Answers follow)

Google

House phone

The Hunger Games

Cell phones

Baby Yoda

Nintendo

Social media

Marvel Universe movies

Pokemon

Amazon

Netflix

Laptops

Titanic (the movie)

Not all of the things listed above are mentioned in Your Life Has Been Delayed, but quite a few of them are. Google, for sure, which came online in 1998, as well as social media, which is a completely foreign concept to my main character, Jenny. The Hunger Games, which Jenny learns about from Dylan, the story’s love interest, sparks an interesting discussion about the rise of young adult novels. House phones and Nintendo were around in 1995, as were cell phones and laptops, although the latter two were not common. And, to clarify, cell phones were not the smart phones nearly everyone uses today. Jenny does end up binge-watching some shows on Netflix, although she’s baffled as to what happened to Blockbuster.

Some of the other questions I just threw in for fun, but here are the answers anyway:

Baby Yoda – no, but old Yoda, yes!

Marvel Universe movies – no

Pokemon – no (1996)

Amazon – technically, yes (July 1995)

Titanic – no (1998)

But just knowing when something became available isn’t an indicator of when it gained widespread popularity or was adopted by a majority of the population. Or, in particular, by my character in suburban St. Louis. For example, the movie Clueless, released July 19, 1995, depicts teens running around with cell phones—but those are super-rich teens in Los Angeles. Teens in suburban St. Louis were more likely to have pagers, if anything.

Computers and the internet are another interesting and nuanced question for teens in 1995. Teens were using computers at home and school quite a lot—to type up papers, to do design work, even learning basic programming. But there’s a difference between computers and the internet, a distinction that’s very clear to Jenny but less so to teens today, who probably can’t imagine a computer that isn’t hooked up to wifi.

One of my main resources for really digging into this difference was my own high school yearbook. Some of my favorite quotes were:

“South’s library has its own modem, though it isn’t used to get onto bulletin board systems.”

“Anytime anyone walked around South, it was a common sight to see a variety of classes learning on a computer. Right now students at PSH use computers in almost every class.”

“Taking advantage of the new Macs, students transfer their thoughts from paper to word processers in the Mac Lab.”

I wonder if these quotes put a nineties teen’s use of technology into perspective for students today, many of whom do the majority of their classwork online, submitting homework through virtual portals even as they’re sitting in a classroom.

Beyond technology, I also researched other everyday things my character would encounter, like fashion, new words that have entered our vocabulary, and even things like the fist bump, which existed in the nineties but didn’t become a widespread greeting until the Obamas popularized it in 2008. But if you ask most people, they probably think they’ve been fist bumping forever. Another one of those memory tricks!

It was fun exploring all the ways Jenny would react to a new century, and if I’d wanted to write a longer book, I could have tackled so many more topics! But, since this was where Jenny’s story ended, I hope readers might consider other ways the world changed over those twenty-five years. Perhaps other passengers, with different backgrounds and experiences, might have returned to find other changes that would impact them more personally. If so, I’d love to hear those discussions, too!

Meet the author

Photo credit: Greg Mason

Michelle I. Mason is the author of Your Life Has Been Delayed and the forthcoming My Second Impression of You (September 2022), both from Bloomsbury YA. Michelle spent ten years as a PR manager promoting everything from forklift rodeos to Hotel Olympics before deciding she’d rather focus on made-up stories. When she isn’t writing, she’s probably reading, watching too much TV, cross-stitching, baking amazing brownies, or playing the violin. Michelle lives in St. Louis with her family.

Website: https://michelleimason.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/michelleimason

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/michelleimason/

Newsletter: https://eepurl.com/hh3lwD

About Your Life Has Been Delayed

Past and present collide in a captivating YA debut about a girl who takes off on a flight and lands . . . twenty-five years later.

When Jenny boards her flight back from New York, the biggest things on her mind are applying to Columbia and reuniting with her brand-new boyfriend. But when she and the other passengers disembark in St. Louis, they’re told that their plane disappeared-twenty-five years ago. Everyone thought they were dead.

The world has fast-forwarded. Three of her grandparents are gone, her parents are old, and her “little” brother is now an adult. There’s so much she’s missed out on, not the least iPhones, social media, and pop culture. When some surprising information comes to light, Jenny feels betrayed by her family and once-best friend. She’s also fighting her attraction to Dylan, a cute and kind classmate who has an unusual connection to her past. And then there’s the growing contingent of conspiracy theorists determined to prove that Flight 237 hides a sinister truth. Will Jenny figure out how to move forward, or will she always be stuck in the past?

Debut author Michelle I. Mason offers a smart and funny high-concept debut about the most unbelievable of life changes-and the parts of yourself that can always stay the same.

ISBN-13: 9781547604081
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Publication date: 09/07/2021
Age Range: 12 – 17 Years

Book Review: Opposite of Always by Justin A. Reynolds

Publisher’s description

oppositeDebut author Justin A. Reynolds delivers a hilarious and heartfelt novel about the choices we make, the people we choose, and the moments that make a life worth reliving. Perfect for fans of Nicola Yoon and John Green.

When Jack and Kate meet at a party, bonding until sunrise over their mutual love of Froot Loops and their favorite flicks, Jack knows he’s falling—hard. Soon she’s meeting his best friends, Jillian and Franny, and Kate wins them over as easily as she did Jack.

But then Kate dies. And their story should end there.

Yet Kate’s death sends Jack back to the beginning, the moment they first meet, and Kate’s there again. Healthy, happy, and charming as ever. Jack isn’t sure if he’s losing his mind.

Still, if he has a chance to prevent Kate’s death, he’ll take it. Even if that means believing in time travel. However, Jack will learn that his actions are not without consequences. And when one choice turns deadly for someone else close to him, he has to figure out what he’s willing to do to save the people he loves.

 

Amanda’s thoughts

I picked this up initially because I love the cover. Then I read the summary, and as someone who obsessively quotes Groundhog Day, the premise sold me. Reliving the same chunk of time over and over? Bring it on!

 

This completely enjoyable story asks what you would do differently—or the same—if you got a second chance. Or a third, fourth, or twentieth chance. Jack and Kate are only just really getting to know each other, to fall for each other, when Kate dies from sickle cell anemia. Upon hearing the news, Jack rushes from his house, falls down the stairs, and BAM! time starts over again. Suddenly, he’s back at the party where he first met Kate. Kate is clueless as to who he is (though she has a weird feeling that she already knows him), or that they have somehow respawned, but Jack remembers everything. Jack wonders why he’s reliving this time loop and blows off so much to be with Kate, whose time may or may not be limited in this run. When she dies again, Jack really buckles down, trying to figure out how he is supposed to do whatever it is he’s back here to do. Jack has to figure out what risks he should take and try to foresee what the consequences might be. It’s terrible to lose someone over and over, but he’s determined to figure out how to change that. And it’s not like he has a choice—he keeps getting tossed back through this loop no matter what changes he makes. He starts to wonder if he can save everyone—or, heck, if he can even save anyone.  He’ll make mistakes and different choices each time, but is he doomed to spend eternity living the same few months and always losing Kate?

 

This is a fun love story that features strong friendships, great parents, humor, and heartbreak. I loved Jack’s voice, the excellent banter, and the complex and caring relationships he has with Franny and Jillian, his best friends. This warm, smart, unique debut will have an easy wide appeal. I suspect, like me, readers will be drawn to it when they spy the great cover and once they start reading it, they’ll want to race through the whole thing and see if Jack can break the loop and find a happy ending. Or an ending, period. Readers who can suspend their disbelief and just go with the time loop premise will love this character-driven look at choices, consequences, and possibilities. I can’t wait to see what else Reynolds writes. 

 

Review copy courtesy of Edelweiss

ISBN-13: 9780062748379
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 03/05/2019

Take 5: Time Travel and Teens, featuring INVICTUS by Ryan Graudin

We are HUGE Doctor Who fans in my house, and many of my teens are as well. So I’m always excited to read a new Time Travel book. So today I am going to review Invictus by Ryan Graudin and share with you a few of my other favorite time travel books for lovers of Doctor Who (or anyone really).

tltbutton2

Invictus by Ryan Graudin

timetravels1Publisher’s Book Description

Time flies when you’re plundering history.

Farway Gaius McCarthy was born outside of time. The son of a time-traveling Recorder from 2354 AD and a gladiator living in Rome in 95 AD, Far’s birth defies the laws of nature. Exploring history himself is all he’s ever wanted, and after failing his final time-traveling exam, Far takes a position commanding a ship with a crew of his friends as part of a black market operation to steal valuables from the past.

But during a heist on the sinking Titanic, Far meets a mysterious girl who always seems to be one step ahead of him. Armed with knowledge that will bring Far’s very existence into question, she will lead Far and his team on a race through time to discover a frightening truth: History is not as steady as it seems.

Coming September 26, 2017 from Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Karen’s Thoughts

This is a fantastic book: Exciting, twisty and compelling. Just when I thought to myself, yeah but why does the adventurous time traveler have to be a dude, Graudin inserts some new twists. In fact, this is far more than a time travel book but I can’t tell you why because then it would spoil everything which would make you hate me because where this novel goes is really interesting and fresh. There is also great characterization and growth. On top of all of that, there are some really good relationships here which I appreciated. This is a must buy and read.

The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig

timetravels2Publisher’s Book Description

Nix has spent her entire life aboard her father’s ship, sailing across the centuries, across the world, across myth and imagination.

As long as her father has a map for it, he can sail to any time, any place, real or imagined: nineteenth-century China, the land from One Thousand and One Nights, a mythic version of Africa. Along the way they have found crewmates and friends, and even a disarming thief who could come to mean much more to Nix.

But the end to it all looms closer every day.

Her father is obsessed with obtaining the one map, 1868 Honolulu, that could take him back to his lost love, Nix’s mother. Even though getting it—and going there—could erase Nix’s very existence.

For the first time, Nix is entering unknown waters.

She could find herself, find her family, find her own fantastical ability, her own epic love.

Or she could disappear.

Karen’s Thoughts

This is such a great series. That’s right, it’s the first book in a series so there is more than one book to keep you traveling in time.

Hourglass by Myra McEntire

timetravels3Publisher’s Book Description

One hour to rewrite the past…

For seventeen-year-old Emerson Cole, life is about seeing what isn’t there: swooning Southern Belles; soldiers long forgotten; a haunting jazz trio that vanishes in an instant. Plagued by phantoms since her parents’ death, she just wants the apparitions to stop so she can be normal. She’s tried everything, but the visions keep coming back.

So when her well-meaning brother brings in a consultant from a secretive organization called the Hourglass, Emerson’s willing to try one last cure. But meeting Michael Weaver may not only change her future, it may also change her past.

Who is this dark, mysterious, sympathetic guy, barely older than Emerson herself, who seems to believe every crazy word she says? Why does an electric charge seem to run through the room whenever he’s around? And why is he so insistent that he needs her help to prevent a death that never should’ve happened?

Karen’s Thoughts

Honestly, I will take any chance I can to recommend this book series. If you haven’t read it yet, I highly recommend it.

Passenger by Alexandra Bracken

timetravels4Publisher’s Book Description

Passage, n.
i. A brief section of music composed of a series of notes and flourishes.
ii. A journey by water; a voyage.
iii. The transition from one place to another, across space and time.

In one devastating night, violin prodigy Etta Spencer loses everything she knows and loves. Thrust into an unfamiliar world by a stranger with a dangerous agenda, Etta is certain of only one thing: she has traveled not just miles but years from home. And she’s inherited a legacy she knows nothing about from a family whose existence she’s never heard of. Until now.

Nicholas Carter is content with his life at sea, free from the Ironwoods—a powerful family in the colonies—and the servitude he’s known at their hands. But with the arrival of an unusual passenger on his ship comes the insistent pull of the past that he can’t escape and the family that won’t let him go so easily. Now the Ironwoods are searching for a stolen object of untold value, one they believe only Etta, Nicholas’ passenger, can find. In order to protect her, he must ensure she brings it back to them—whether she wants to or not.

Together, Etta and Nicholas embark on a perilous journey across centuries and continents, piecing together clues left behind by the traveler who will do anything to keep the object out of the Ironwoods’ grasp. But as they get closer to the truth of their search, and the deadly game the Ironwoods are playing, treacherous forces threaten to separate Etta not only from Nicholas but from her path home… forever.

Karen’s Thoughts

This is another great series that time travel fans will love.

Cold Summer by Gwen Cole

timetravels5Publisher’s Book Description

Today, he’s a high school dropout with no future.
Tomorrow, he’s a soldier in World War II.

Kale Jackson has spent years trying to control his time-traveling ability but hasn’t had much luck. One day he lives in 1945, fighting in the war as a sharpshooter and helplessly watching soldiers—friends—die. Then the next day, he’s back in the present, where WWII has bled into his modern life in the form of PTSD, straining his relationship with his father and the few friends he has left. Every day it becomes harder to hide his battle wounds, both physical and mental, from the past.

When the ex-girl-next-door, Harper, moves back to town, thoughts of what could be if only he had a normal life begin to haunt him. Harper reminds him of the person he was before the PTSD, which helps anchor him to the present. With practice, maybe Kale could remain in the present permanently and never step foot on a battlefield again. Maybe he can have the normal life he craves.

But then Harper finds Kale’s name in a historical article—and he’s listed as a casualty of the war. Kale knows now that he must learn to control his time-traveling ability to save himself and his chance at a life with Harper. Otherwise, he’ll be killed in a time where he doesn’t belong by a bullet that was never meant for him.

Karen’s Thoughts

I haven’t read this one yet but Eric Smith recommends it and that’s good enough for me.

And a Bonus Title . . .

If you can, be sure and get your hands on the much older YA title MR. WAS by Pete Hautman.

mrwasJack Lund figures a good day is when his dad’s too drunk to beat up his mom.

For Jack, Bogg’s End is the end. The end of the turbulent, see-saw years of watching his father go on the wagon and fall right back off gain. Once it took two years, but the inevitable inevitably happened. Now it’s just Jack and his mom starting over in the strange old house his grandfather left them.

But the ride’s not over yet. Jack’s father returns, full of apologies and promises, and for a little while, things are looking up. Then in one terrifying, sickening moment, everything comes crashing back down again.

So Jack runs. He runs through a strange hidden door that takes him back in time to before his parents were born. Before he was born. Maybe with a second chance he can stop the inevitable. At least he’s got to try. What Jack doesn’t understand, though, is that he can’t change his future until he faces his past.

More Time Travel YA Lists

Book Review: The Time Museum by Matthew Loux, a guest post by Callum (age 10)

If you follow me on Twitter (@CiteSomething), then you’re familiar with my extremely entertaining 10-year-old son, Callum. He’s a big fan of graphic novels and recently has started pulling books out of my TBR pile. It’s fun to get book mail and have so much of it either appeal now to him or know it will soon. He’s excited to write his first review post for TLT. I suspect we’ll see more from him in the future. He’s already been on the cover of a magazine and on an episode of The Longest Shortest Time (episode 50, “Mom, It’s Time We Had The Talk”). He loves when people react to stuff I tweet about him. He says it all adds to his “fame.” Have I mentioned he’s super entertaining and loves attention? Anyway, here’s his review.

Publisher’s description

time-museumThe internship program at the Time Museum is a little unusual. For one thing, kids as young as twelve get to apply for these prestigious summer jobs. And as for the applicant pool . . . well, these kids come from all over history.

When Delia finds herself working at the Time Museum, the last thing she expects is to be sent on time-traveling adventures with an unlikely gang of kids from across the eons. From a cave-boy to a girl from the distant future, Delia’s team represents nearly all of human history! They’re going to need all their skills for the challenge they’ve got in store . . . defending the Time Museum itself!

 

 

Callum’s thoughts

Plot:

There’s this girl named Delia and she starts out at school pretty much. It’s the last day of school. They go to her uncle’s house and her parents say they’re going to go to the store or something like that. They go to take her brother to a pool. She’s busy being a nerd and looking at moss and mold and sees an extinct bird. She chases it and catches it. Then she sees a gate in front of her. It says it’s a time museum. She says gates are made for being opened, right? Delia holds the bird and goes in there. There’s like aliens and weird slug-humans and stuff. When she walks into the building, she sees her parents there. She says, “What are you guys doing here?” They’re like, oh, she finally found it! Found what? They say, we’ve been hiding this from you for a while. It was hard to hide! Delia wonders where her brother is. He’s at the gift shop. She goes in to search for him and finds that her uncle owns the museum.

 

Her uncle and her talk for a while about how he hid it and he tells her about all sorts of stuff about the museum. He makes her come with him. There’s another girl they meet. She’s from the way way future from Tokyo. Her name is Michiko. They become close friends even though they’ll have to be rivals in something fancy for the museum. The next day Delia goes to get a thing done on her so she can speak pretty much any language. They have to travel through time to finish these trials to complete this task thing.

 

First they go to the Cretaceous period and meet a creepy man, called The Grey Earl, who gives them a stone and says it’s a good luck charm. She walks away to save friends from dinosaurs and after the trial they get in trouble for being off task and nearly getting eaten by three T-Rexes. They do some more trials. They go to London for the final trial. That stone that guy gave her starts to glow and there’s a huge split in the sky—stuff is being sucked up in the sky. They all take cover. She goes through the portal in the sky then she sees that guy in there, The Grey Earl. They have a conversation and he asks how she got there. She shows him the stone that he gave her. She leaves the portal and runs to friends and the portal stops.

 

The ending is she’s off with her friends and telling them about the museum. Her fancy watch starts to glow. Delia runs around the corner and a friend follows her, but she’s just gone. Delia teleports into the museum. She crashes into a portrait that is half covered. She sees that The Grey Earl is one of the founders of museum. The back says there will be a book two.

 

Other things:

I liked the cool electronics that they used.
I liked that they travel through time to other periods and places.
The art was really good.
The story was kind of fast-paced and kept my attention.
It’s cool that it’s a girl main character.

 

Review copy courtesy of the publisher

ISBN-13: 9781596438491

Publisher: First Second

Publication date: 02/21/2017

Series: Time Museum Series, #1

Book Review: Proof of Forever by Lexa Hillyer

 

proofImagine you could go back in time and relive 5 days of your life. Would you make the same choices, knowing what you know now? Would you hope you were altering the future? Would you want to maybe stay in the past? These are the questions the characters in Proof of Forever by Lexa Hillyer struggle with when a photo booth turns into a time machine and sends them back two years to when they were all 15.

 

Zoe, Joy, Tali, and Luce used to be best friends. They stuck together each summer at Camp Okahatchee. But two years ago, everything changed. Joy dropped out of all of their lives, and they just sort of drifted apart. But now Joy has brought them together, just before they are to head off to college, for the camp reunion. They all have their own things going on. Zoe has just that day broken up with her boyfriend, Calvin, after deciding she just isn’t feeling the relationship (and, if she’s being honest, she’s never really felt into any of her relationships). Tali is a wealthy “ugly-duckling-turned-swan” (her wording) who is about to find out some upsetting news about her family. Luce is gearing up to head to Princeton, where she ostensibly will continue her record of being perfect and excelling in everything she does. She’s also about to have sex with Andrew, her longtime boyfriend, before the camp reunion, but Tali shows up and ruins that plan. And Joy… well, no one knows what’s going on with her. Even though she’s the one who’s brought them together, we don’t really learn what’s going on with her until the very end of the book.

 

When they attempt a group picture in a photo booth, they’re somehow taken back two years in time. They figure they have 5 days to try and recreate the past to obtain the objects they were holding in the picture from the time they were originally 15—that seems like their only hope for somehow getting back to the future. They try to follow the past exactly as it happened before, but that’s a lot more challenging than they’d expected. Frankly, making the same choices and hoping for the same outcomes starts to look incredibly unappealing to most of them pretty quickly. In this extremely unexpected second chance summer, they learn surprising things about themselves that will likely alter their futures. And spending 5 days rekindling what felt like long-dead friendships? It turns out to happen just in the nick of time.

 

The characters are distinctive and all travel their own paths during their repeat week, but come together for the things that matter. It’s a fun, thoughtful, and unpredictable look at who we let ourselves become and redefining ourselves.

 

(P.S–My only quibble is this line: “…some infinities are bigger than others.” It completely pulled me out of the book. Are you intentionally quoting John Green, I wondered? I didn’t like it.) EDITING THIS TO INCLUDE PART OF THE COMMENT LEXA LEFT ON THIS POST: “Did you read the galley version? I just wanted to let you know that I am almost positive I actually changed the “infinity” line you mentioned for the final book (beginning of ch.20, right?)–for that exact reason! I hadn’t read TFIOS when I wrote the first draft of this book but by the time I had, I realized John Green now practically owns the concept (even though it’s something basic everyone learns in high school math).”

 

Review copy courtesy of Edelweiss

ISBN-13: 9780062330376

Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers

Publication date: 6/2/2015