Sent away for the summer, a high schooler finds his life changed forever by what he discovers in the woods near his grandparents’ house in this YA novel.
It’s Jeremy Biggs’ junior year at West Central High, and this soccer star has the usual concerns: the prom, his upcoming summer job, and the selection of a college, not to mention the day-to-day struggles of any teenager. But Jeremy’s big summer plans are upended when his grandpa has a stroke that causes Jeremy to put his young life on hold so he can spend the summer six hours from home, taking care of his recovering relative in Cedarville, Vermont. There isn’t much to do in Cedarville for a young man. The most interesting thing Jeremy spies is a bit of local history in the woods near his grandparents’ house: a burned-out remnant of an old one-room schoolhouse from 1905. “The Montgomery School,” his grandmother tells him later. “A tragedy. Everybody in the school building at the time was lost….Nobody seems to know for sure what caused the tragedy.” But when Jeremy steps into the wreckage, somehow the past and present are blended, and he is inside the Montgomery School as it was in 1905, along with a dozen students of varying ages. Jeremy spends his afternoons in this class from the past, where he meets Amy Wilshire and begins to fall in love. But each day when the school bell rings in the afternoon, Jeremy is left alone in the remains. Jeremy’s summer is looking up, but his time in the school is marred by the looming shadow of the catastrophe he knows will befall his classmates. The summer may change Jeremy’s life, but is that all? Or is there some way he can save the school and overcome the distance of time to reunite with the girl he loves? Schmeichel (Thorngar: A Bison Adventure, 2016, etc.) deftly layers the hopes and tragedies of Jeremy’s story, twisting the plot at just the right moments to push the novel into compelling wrinkles. Told in Jeremy’s own relatable voice, young readers likely won’t be able to stop turning the pages to find out the ultimate fate of the Montgomery School. With such a strong story and a dramatic climax, some readers may be disappointed by the lack of explanations for what makes Jeremy special. But overall, this hardly dims the beauty of Schmeichel’s poignant tale of young love in unusual circumstances.
Splendid and enchanting, this book offers a sad, sweet, and entertaining time-travel story.