I find time travel stories deeply intriguing–and Alice in Time by Penelope Bush promised an especially intriguing trip into the past. Since the travel is facilitated by a magical merry-go-round, it’s solidly fantasy and suitable for Once Upon a Time.
Fourteen-year-old Alice hates her life–loudly and constantly. She’s convinced that all her problems started from the birth of her younger brother, her mother’s post natal depression and her parents’ divorce soon after. A spin on a merry-go-round sends her back seven years to just a few days before her brother was born. She inhabits her younger body, while keeping her older memories. Freaked out at first, Alice soon decides that this is her chance to change everything, saving her parents’ marriage and inflicting revenge on the girl who will bully her through middle school.
I was fascinated by the idea of going back into one’s own past, with the opportunity to relive life differently. Doesn’t it make you think about what you’d do if you could go back into your own past?
Alice has definite plans, and one of the best parts of the book is Alice’s growing understanding of what really happened the first time around when she was seven. As an older (and not emotionally-involved) reader, I saw very quickly what the real problems were in Alice’s family. Within the first few chapters (pre-time travel), Alice’s father holds the reception for his second wedding at a pub, next to a bookie’s office, which probably tells you quite a lot too.
Even though I figured things out before Alice did, I believed in her blindness, and didn’t mind waiting for her evolving understanding. There were also some nuances in her friendships that were, if not surprising exactly, interesting to watch unfold.
One of my favorite parts was watching how teenage Alice dealt with being seven again. There were good things, like the closeness with her mother, and bad things, like the lack of freedom and control. One of the sweetest parts of the book is when Alice gets to spend some time with her grandmother, who had died when Alice was eight.
I have to warn you that this book started a little slow for me–it’s a fast read overall, at a little over 200 pages, but it’s about 80 pages before Alice goes back in time, and I was starting to get impatient by that point. It picked up a lot once the time travel came in, and became a very good read about family, friends and growing up…by being younger!
Author’s Site: http://www.penelopebush.com/
Buy it here: Alice in Time