Imagine if you could have a “do-over” in real life, a second chance to do things differently. Perhaps you could save yourself some embarrassment, or even prevent someone you love from getting in a terrible accident… In most time travel tales the protagonists travel many years into the past and stay there awhile. However, the main characters in these books travel back to a point in time for just a day, hours, or even minutes. They get the chance at the ultimate “do-over”. But usually it’s not as easy to set things right as they think at first. Luckily, they learn from their mistakes and are often given multiple chances. Sometimes they are trapped in a day, condemned to re-live it, in an endless Groundhog Day loop! Most recently published books appear first on this list. Summaries are from Goodreads or Amazon.
The First Last Day
by Dorian Cirrone,
Aladdin, 2016, 240 pages
After finding a mysterious set of paints in her backpack, eleven-year-old Haleigh Adams paints a picture of her last day at the New Jersey shore. When she wakes up the next morning, Haleigh finds that her wish for an endless summer with her new friend Kevin has come true. At first, she’s thrilled, but Haliegh soon learns that staying in one place—and time—comes with a price. And when Haleigh realizes her parents have been keeping a secret, she is faced with a choice: do nothing and miss out on the good things that come with growing up or find the secret of the time loop she’s trapped in and face the inevitable realities of moving on. As she and Kevin set out to find the source of the magic paints, Haleigh worries it might be too late. Will she be able to restart time? Or will it be the biggest mistake of her life?
by Vivian Vande Velde,
Boyds Mills, 2016, 176 pages (Young Adult)
By both society’s measure and her own, fifteen-year-old Zoe Mahar is pretty much a loser. Then one day she ducks into Spencerport Savings and Loan simply to get out of the rain—and witnesses a bank robbery gone horrifyingly wrong. The good news is that Zoe has a unique ability: she can play back time and repeat events. But it’s not an unlimited deal—she can only jump 23 minutes, and her first playback creates an even more disastrous outcome. Zoe has only 10 tries to get it right before this particular 23 minutes becomes irreversible. In the process of trying to become the heroine she doesn’t believe she can be, Zoe learns about herself and realizes that there is more to who she is than she thought.
by Dana Reinhardt,
Yearling, 2013, 196 pages
Fourth grader Odessa Green-Light lives with her mom and her toad of a little brother, Oliver. Her dad is getting remarried, which makes no sense according to Odessa. If the prefix “re” means “to do all over again,” shouldn’t he be remarrying Mom? Meanwhile, Odessa moves into the attic room of their new house. One day she gets mad and stomps across the attic floor. Then she feels as if she is falling and lands . . . on the attic floor. Turns out that Odessa has gone back in time a whole day! With this new power she can fix all sorts of things–embarrassing moments, big mistakes, and even help Oliver be less of a toad. Her biggest goal: reunite Mom and Dad.
by Wendy Mass,
Scholastic Paperbacks, 2009, 267 pages
It’s Amanda’s 11th birthday and she is super excited — after all, 11 is so different from 10. But from the start, everything goes wrong. The worst part of it all is that she and her best friend, Leo, with whom she’s shared every birthday, are on the outs and this will be the first birthday they haven’t shared together. When Amanda turns in for the night, glad to have her birthday behind her, she wakes up happy for a new day. Or is it? Her birthday seems to be repeating iself. What is going on?! And how can she fix it? Only time, friendship, and a little luck will tell. . .
by Jason Cockcroft,
Katherine Tegan Books, 2009, 202 pages
What if your mother were hit by a bus?
And what if your father disappeared one day through a hole in the bathroom wall?
Is there a way to change the course of your life’s history?
What if time moved?
In this dazzling debut novel, Jason Cockcroft has crafted a mind-bending adventure with a startlingly original narrative structure.
by Steve Young,
HarperCollins, 2006, 172 pages
It’s not that Casey Little is always late. It’s just that everything starts a little too early. But when Casey discovers a weird little time machine, he figures he’ll never be late again. Unfortunately, it’s not a very good time machine. It can only go back 15 minutes. And it seems to have a mind of its own.
Still — what could possibly go wrong?
The Power of Un,
by Nancy Etchemendy,
Scholastic Paperbacks, 2000, 148 pages
Until a week ago, Gib Finney was just a regular guy, shooting spitballs and messing up his science experiments. But when he finds a mysterious device called the Unner, everything changes. Gib discovers that the Unner has the power to erase any and all mistakes. At first, Gib thinks this is better than winning the lottery: he’ll never flunk another test or strike out again!
But after a terrible accident, Gib must decide which events of the previous day he must undo to stop the disaster from happening the second and third time around. He soon learns that some things are more worthy of “unning” than others, and some things can’t be changed at all. Ultimately, Gib learns the value of life and family in this touching and straight-forward fantasy.
by William Sleator,
Puffin Books, 1999, 120 pages
When Peter is hit by a car, he is given the ultimate do-over: go back to any point in time before that fateful moment, and alter the events leading up to his death. If he fails, he will die again–this time, for good. Now Peter’s racing against time to save his own life, but what should he change? His adoptive parents don’t understand him, the school jock is out to get him, and no one appreciates his own talents. This may be his last chance–can Peter cheat death, or will he be lost forever.
by Felice Holman
Atheneum, 1997, 176 pages
When Colly’s father, a stuntman working in the movies in the 1930s, is injured, they retreat to an adobe shack in the desert so he can recuperate. It is there that Colly meets Sparrow, an Indian boy of centuries past, who is trapped in a Forever Day–and who needs Colly’s help to be free.