Thursday, May 3, 2012

Time and Again, by Deborah Heal

When Abby volunteered to be a tutor over her summer break from college, she had no idea what she would get into.  Abby ends up living with Merrideth, a sullen preteen dealing with being a child of divorce, and Pat, her well meaning but largely absent mother.  Merrideth is resistant to Abby, and spends most of her time complaining that she misses living in the city.  When Abby and Merrideth learn that the house they are in is full of history, and that this history can play out in real time on a program on Merrideth's computer, the girls form a very unique and powerful bond.

Let me start off by saying this book had a very unique premise to me, sort of a "Back to the Future" meets virtual reality, with a little dash of "Seventh Heaven" thrown in.  I loved the idea of this book being focused on several generations of women.  Abby and Merrideth are wonderfully developed characters, and I loved watching them bond over the history behind the house and its previous inhabitants.  I though Merrideth was a fairly accurate representation of a sullen tween girl with a tense family life.  I actually felt a lot of sympathy toward Pat's character, what little we saw of her.  I think there is more to her story.

I felt like this book had two distinct storyworlds, one in the present, and one in the past, and both were developed in rich detail.  The historical aspects of the story were particularly fascinating to me, and I really loved learning the backstory to the house and town.  I liked how real historical facts were woven into that backstory as well.  I was a little confused about the technical aspects behind the computer program, and whether or not it was a program or internet based; the plot could have been just a bit tighter and more clear regarding the program, but I do understand that the writing may have been intentionally ambiguous in order to build mystery.

There is a definite Christian flavor to the book, without being preachy or over the top.  Abby's character is a Christian, though she has her flaws, and there are some scenes where biblical principles are discussed, but I think that the book still has secular appeal.  The book is actually appropriate for both young adult and adult readers.  All in all, I found this an engaging, entertaining read, and I hope that there are more stories to follow.

I received a review copy of the book courtesy of the author.
 


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