The authors, a husband-and-wife writing team, seamlessly incorporate heavy social-justice issues—fracking for natural gas in 2014 and a coal-mining protest in 1938—into a riveting time-travel adventure story.
Margaret, 13, is devastated when her geologist father (recently fired) is falsely accused, convicted and sentenced to death by the vindictive and corrupt judge Lucas Biggs for arson and murder in the first degree. A whistle-blower, John Thomas O’Malley discovered that due to fracking, poisonous chemicals had leaked into the local water supply: Is he a traitor or hero? Two stories set in the company town of Victory, Ariz., told in alternating voices—Margaret’s in 2014 and 13-year-old Josh’s in 1938—run parallel and then converge. Desperate to save her father and supported by her best friend, Charlie, and his grandpa Joshua, Margaret breaks the sacred family vow and activates the genetic O’Malley “quirk” to travel back in time to try to change events just enough to impact the present. In 1938, a related narrative of injustice is unfolding, one in which Luke Agrippa’s pacifist father is leading a nonviolent uprising for decent working conditions after a mine collapse and a company-led massacre. Who is Lucas Biggs, can he be saved, and why does it matter?
Strong storytelling, suspense, lyrical writing, high drama, weighty matters made accessible and a bit of humor add up to a terrific and heartwarming read. (Mystery/fantasy. 9-12)