I love the idea of short-term time travel into the past, that is, going just a few days or weeks back, so I was pleased to find another book of this type, Rewind, William Sleator (1999, 120 pages). This book reminded me of The Power of Un, (earlier reviewed here,) in which a kid is given multiple chances to go back in the past and change his actions to avoid a mistake he had made. But it can’t be that simple. I’ve picked up some knowledge about time travel from reading so many time travel books. The big irony is that when you journey into the past to fix some mistakes, you often cause other problems.
Eleven-year-old Peter’s parents don’t understand him. They want him to love sports, but he is into art. One night, hoping to win their admiration, he performs for them a puppet show with puppets he made. Instead of being impressed, they’re scornful. Crying, “I’m sorry I’m me! I can’t help being me!” Peter runs out of the house. He gets hit by a car and dies instantly. Happily, he doesn’t stay dead. He is given more chances (By God? The universe? It doesn’t really matter) to go back in time a few weeks or months and do things differently so he doesn’t die again.
There was an adoption angle in the book I did not like. Peter’s parents do not tell him he was adopted until he is eleven and his mom is pregnant with a new baby. As the parent of two children adopted from Russia, and the friend of many parents who have adopted children, I found it hard to believe that nowadays any parent would withhold this information from their adopted child for so many years. It’s pretty universally believed that it is best to tell the child from the get-go they were adopted.
And I wondered if Dad was joking when he said, “If you don’t get better grades or learn to hit a ball, we can always take you back to the orphanage.”
Adoption is viewed as something that separates Peter from his parents. Of course at the end of the book his parents tell him they love him in spite of being adopted. (Sorry, blog readers if you think that’s a spoiler but I figured for most readers it would be utterly predictable.)
But, Peter is a likeable character, and the plot was suspenseful. I especially enjoyed how in one of his “rewind chances”, Peter ponders for the first time if there are subtle ways he is acting that are making people-the bully, his parents–treat him badly. Rewind is not quite as well written as other short-term time travel stories such as The Power of Un, or , nor as funny as 15 Minutes, but it’s still an engaging read.