A Little Bit Of Summer Time Travel


A Little Bit Of Summer Time Travel

I love a good time travel story. Whether it’s a romantic story like The Time Traveler’s Wife, a mind-boggling movie like The Butterfly Effect, or a series that is super sci-fi like Dr. Who, I love watching how the events unfold when a character begins messing with time.

If you’re a fellow time-travel enthusiast, I have two summer read recommendations that you will definitely enjoy. 

The first one is Wrong Place, Wrong Time by Gillian McAllister.

Jen is the mother of an only child, a teenage boy. She is up late sitting by the window one night, waiting for him to come home from a night out with his friends, and she witnesses him murdering a man on their front lawn. She is completely baffled over why her son, a rule-abiding and incredibly smart honor-roll type of kid, would do such a thing. He is arrested and thrown into jail before she can get any satisfactory sort of answer from him. However, when she wakes up the next morning, her son is back home again in his bedroom, and neither he nor her husband have any recollection of a murder or an arrest. Jen realizes that she has actually traveled back in time, to the day before the murder, and she spends the rest of the story trying to piece together both how and why her time travel powers work and how to stop her son from committing a terrible crime. 

At first, I assumed that Jen would be caught in some sort of repetitive time loop (like Groundhog’s Day–living the day before the murder over and over again). However, she is actually living time in reverse. Each day when she wakes up, it’s the day previous to the one she just experienced. It’s an interesting plot twist and an incredibly frustrating one for the protagonist, whose progress (conversations with other characters, notes taken or evidence/clues acquired) keeps getting erased as she moves backwards through time. I love a good murder mystery, and it was fascinating to watch Jen piece this one together in reverse. The revelations she uncovers about her family and the things that were going on in her household right under her nose will leave you feeling stunned. And the sense of mom guilt she experiences as she realizes she wasn’t as “present” in her home life as she perhaps should have been will feel all too relatable. 

My second recommendation is Cassandra in Reverse, another Reese’s Book Club pick, and another title from a U.K. author.

Cassandra is in her early thirties, working for a PR firm and just recently celebrating her four-month anniversary with her boyfriend. However, the story begins in the midst of Cassandra’s worst day ever: her boyfriend decides to break up with her, she gets fired from her job, and her roommate keeps leaving heavy-handed hints that Cassandra needs to find a different place to live. There’s nothing left for Cassandra to do aside from crawling into bed and pulling the covers over her head, exhausted from the day’s terrible events. However, when she wakes up, she finds that her most recent day has been undone. Her boyfriend has arrived at her apartment, ready to take her on an anniversary date, and her job is still intact. Cassandra discovers that by closing her eyes and focusing really hard on the events that she wants to change, she is able to undo those moments in time. She finally has the chance for a do-over (or two, or twelve), and she decides to take full advantage of that opportunity–with occasionally disastrous results. 

Cassandra’s time traveling technique reminded me a bit of I Dream of Jeannie--with just a quick blink of her eyes, Cassandra had the ability to jump back months, days, minutes, or even seconds, oftentimes having the same conversation with another character five or six times over again until she achieved the perfect result. Who wouldn’t want the power to do that? However, watching her experience the same events over and over again, adding additional hours to her work day, and sorting out the confusion of which events happened on which timeline definitely gave me second-hand stress and exhaustion. Time travel stories have a way of reminding me that time travel would not make everything easier. In fact, the ability to change and relive time would likely make life much more complicated. I loved that Cassandra is a neurodivergent protagonist, and I found her witty observations on human interaction and confusing social rules to be accurate and entertaining. This story did not end the way that I was expecting it to, and with its delicate balance of both quick-witted writing and tackling weighty issues, it was definitely a book that I won’t soon forget. 

What recommendations do you have for me? Are there other time-travel stories that I should be adding to my TBR?


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