Alice in Time by Penelope Bush (2010, 196 pages) is a fun, light YA read. It entertained me as it also moved me with its deeper message similar to the quote attributed to Lincoln, “Most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.”
Things are at a crisis point for fourteen-year-old Alice. Her mum is ruining her life, her dad is getting remarried, and Sasha, the most popular girl in school, hates her guts. . . Then a bizarre accident happens, and Alice finds herself re-living her life as a seven-year-old through teenage eyes – and discovering some awkward truths. But can she use her new knowledge to change her own future?
It’s such a fantastic time travel plot idea to have a character go back in time to when they were a kid, while retaining all their knowledge, that after I finished the book I found myself marveling that more authors haven’t used it. The shock that Alice experiences when she realizes she is a kid again is a lot of fun. Then she has to pretend that she still likes Barbies, and that she doesn’t know all the answers on the spelling test, lest people figure out her secret. Meanwhile, she works very hard to try to arrange events in a way that she imagines will make her current, teenage life better. Namely, preventing her parents from getting divorced. It’s fun to imagine, although it boggles the mind somewhat, what you might change if you could go a few years back in your own life. Imagine getting a second chance to make things right.
Before she has a chance in the past to change everything on her list, she is whisked back to the present. Her life is mostly the same, but she discovers that she did manage to change some things on her brief trip into the past that had lasting consequences! She has to quickly find out what besides her hairdo is different so she can navigate in this slightly changed world.
Alice was a wonderful main character. Initially, she is wrapped up in her own problems. She can’t stand her mother or little brother and thinks it is totally unfair that she should have to deal with them. Slowly, her view of her own circumstances expands. I found her growth to be totally believable and even inspiring.
Also, good news, I’m perhaps becoming less xenophobic. I am often put off books set in England due to all the Briticisms, but in the case of this book, I loved the setting and language. There were lots of British vocabulary and expressions and somehow they served to make the story seem more authentic, and edgy. I can’t explain why this would be so, except perhaps the setting and lingo felt made the story feel fresh to me. (Particularly since I’ve been avoiding all those other British books.) A whole new world of British books beckons me.