This novel makes a convincing case that all time-travel stories are really stories about death and immortality.
The plot of this book is familiar: Haleigh lives the same day over and over again in an endless loop. It’s the premise of countless books and movies. Cirrone mentions several of them directly, including Richard A. Lupoff’s very morbid 1973 story “12:01 P.M.,” in which a man keeps dying in an endless cycle. Haleigh’s story is almost as dark: every night, in the middle of the night, her best friend’s grandmother has a stroke. For the first few days, Haleigh thinks she can prevent it from happening, but the novel gradually turns into a book about the acceptance of death. And yet, it’s hardly ever sad or philosophical. Most of the time, it’s a caper story involving some magic paints and a quest to restart time. Once in a while, it nearly turns into a sitcom, with terrible jokes about cows. (This may qualify as a mistake in tone, as they are very bad jokes.) The author rarely mentions the characters’ race, but the few people she describes seem to be white. The book is at its best when it acknowledges its real subject, as when the grandmother reflects on mortality or in a lovely scene near the end in which Haleigh, in tears, calmly waits “for the future to happen.”
A light book that deftly plumbs some pretty dark depths. (Fantasy. 8-12)