A well-constructed, compelling addition to an ongoing time-travel tale.

TIME TO HEAL

From the American Epochs series , Vol. 3

McClimans (Time Underground, 2015, etc.) returns to the time-traveling adventures of teens Kristi Connors and Ty Jordan in this third volume of his YA sci-fi series.

At George Washington Prep, seventh-grader Kristi is annoyed at having to share a room with her younger, bratty stepsister. To make matters worse, she misses her classmate and best friend, Ty, whom she last saw back in 1858; they’d taken a time machine to the days of the Underground Railroad to help her ancestor gain his freedom. Ty decided to remain in the past, where he, too, lives with a sibling of sorts: his much older twin, Thomas (it makes sense in context). When Kristi begins learning about the Civil War in school—a conflict in which 700,000 men died—she realizes that the war was only a couple of years into Ty’s future when she left him. She goes to Thomas’ farm, now a museum dedicated to the Underground Railroad, and is horrified to discover a grave on the property: “Ty Jordan / Born September 19, 1847 / Died September 17, 1862 / Beloved Brother, / Youngest Surgeon in the Union Army.” Back in the past, the novel follows Ty’s attempts to serve his country, not as a soldier but as a doctor. It’s a journey that will take him from the hospitals of Washington, D.C., to his inevitable death at the Battle of Antietam. Inevitable, that is, unless Kristi and her time machine can do something about it. Fans of the series will appreciate this latest entry, which tackles perhaps the most tumultuous American epoch of them all. McClimans alternates between Kristi’s and Ty’s perspectives to tell his story of two friends trying to stop each other from becoming casualties in the nation’s bloodiest war. He writes in a sharp, energetic prose (“Kristi Connors lunged to catch a rolling can of Coca-Cola as it spread a fizzling brown wave across her desktop”), and the novel’s quick pace and unusual chronology make for an engrossing read. The book also isn’t afraid to dive into the grittiness of the period—the political divisions that tear communities apart, the horrors of warfare, and the brutality of contemporary surgical practices—and yet it also manages to remain lively and fun.

A well-constructed, compelling addition to an ongoing time-travel tale.

Pub Date: Nov. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-937997-73-1

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Overdue Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2017

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Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

BAREFOOT

Privileged 30-somethings hide from their woes in Nantucket.

Hilderbrand’s saga follows the lives of Melanie, Brenda and Vicki. Vicki, alpha mom and perfect wife, is battling late-stage lung cancer and, in an uncharacteristically flaky moment, opts for chemotherapy at the beach. Vicki shares ownership of a tiny Nantucket cottage with her younger sister Brenda. Brenda, a literature professor, tags along for the summer, partly out of familial duty, partly because she’s fleeing the fallout from her illicit affair with a student. As for Melanie, she gets a last minute invite from Vicki, after Melanie confides that Melanie’s husband is having an affair. Between Melanie and Brenda, Vicki feels her two young boys should have adequate supervision, but a disastrous first day on the island forces the trio to source some outside help. Enter Josh, the adorable and affable local who is hired to tend to the boys. On break from college, Josh learns about the pitfalls of mature love as he falls for the beauties in the snug abode. Josh likes beer, analysis-free relationships and hot older women. In a word, he’s believable. In addition to a healthy dose of testosterone, the novel is balanced by powerful descriptions of Vicki’s bond with her two boys. Emotions run high as she prepares for death.

Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

Pub Date: July 2, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-316-01858-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2007

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More about grief and tragedy than romance.

FRIENDS FOREVER

Five friends meet on their first day of kindergarten at the exclusive Atwood School and remain lifelong friends through tragedy and triumph.

When Gabby, Billy, Izzie, Andy and Sean meet in the toy kitchen of the kindergarten classroom on their first day of school, no one can know how strong the group’s friendship will remain. Despite their different personalities and interests, the five grow up together and become even closer as they come into their own talents and life paths. But tragedy will strike and strike again. Family troubles, abusive parents, drugs, alcohol, stress, grief and even random bad luck will put pressure on each of them individually and as a group. Known for her emotional romances, Steel makes a bit of a departure with this effort that follows a group of friends through young adulthood. But even as one tragedy after another befalls the friends, the impact of the events is blunted by a distant narrative style that lacks emotional intensity. 

More about grief and tragedy than romance.

Pub Date: July 24, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-385-34321-3

Page Count: 322

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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