The First Last Day, by Dorian Cirrone (2016, 227 pages). Boy, do I love this book jacket. Look at the bold sun, the way the girl is going up on tip-toe to paint the sun, the way the water shimmers, the way the title is integrated into the dock… And, unlike some cover images, this one closely matches the content of the book. This is one of my favorite time travel book covers of the year.
The time travel in this book is of the time loop variety, which is always fun. Although The First Last Day is a pleasant diversion, it doesn’t make the most of the repeating day form as effectively as some other books I’ve read. Main character Haleigh is motivated by the repeating day to step out of her comfort zone a little bit and behave differently, but not to the extent of characters in 11 Birthdays, for example. The story is not as suspenseful as 23 Minutes or The Power of Un. The fact that Haleigh loses track of how many times she does a do-over of the day is indicative of its more leisurely pace. (My list of short-term time travel books here.) Summary from goodreads:
What if you could get a do-over—a chance to relive a day in your life over and over again until you got it right? Would you?
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 Haleigh 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 all the good things that come with growing up or find the secret of the time loop she’s trapped in and face some of 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?
This is a sweet story that will probably appeal most to third and fourth grade girls. Don’t think that the secret alluded to in the summary is of the deep, dark variety; there is nothing dark about this story. In fact, it is set in a cozy beach community where all the adults seem to be fond of Haleigh and her best friend Kevin. This book is about a girl who is afraid of some upcoming transitions in her life, during the repeating day she finds the courage to face the changes. The tale captures the carefree feeling of summer, and its bittersweet ending. (Remember how epic and long summer was as a kid?)
I have to get this t-shirt from this store.
It’s a time travel store! The worker who answered the phone said profits from all products sold go toward 826. The website associated with the store states: 826LA is a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting students ages 6 to 18 with their creative and expository writing skills, and to helping teachers inspire their students to write. This sounds, oh, I don’t know, COMPLETELY AWESOME. (Please note I am not promoting 826LA or the store because I can’t believe everything I find on the internet, but would encourage readers to investigate it if you are interested.)
For links to more middle grade book reviews, check out Shannon Messenger’s Marvelous Middle Grade Monday post.