23 Minutes, by Vivian Vande Velde, for Timeslip Tuesday

23 Minutes, by Vivian Vande Velde (Boyds Mills Press, April 2016), is most definitely a time slip book, but there's no need to worry about cultural difficulties caused by time travel here...

Zoe has an odd gift--she can do-over 23 minute sections of the past (with limits-only ten times per 23 minutes, and she can't let time go on past the 23rd minute or it gets locked in place).  So when she takes sheter from a rain storm in a bank, and a bank robber comes in with a gun, and it ends with a charismatic young man having his brains blown out because he was protecting her, and other people dying as well, she most definitely wants a do-over.  But she can't seem to make anything better.  Different people, sometimes more people, die when she changes the past. 

She decides to call on the man who saved her to see if he can help figure out how to change things, but since his memories reset each time, it's tricky.  And when it turns out he and the robber know each other, that makes things trickier.  But Zoe keeps trying. 

So it's primarily a sort of logic game--what can be changed to make better outcomes happen?  It's also a close psychological study of what's going on in Zoe's mind as she sees the shootings time after time, and gets increasingly desperate.  She has demons of her own to confront, and she's had to get used to taking care of herself after being placed in foster care, and now she must trust this stranger to help her...a stranger who's able to trust her even when she can't quite trust herself. Even though the focus is on these particular minutes, Zoe gets plenty of time to reflect and remember her own life, and so she becomes real and important to the reader.

I really like Vivian Vande Velde's writing.  Her characters are always briskly and a tad smart-aleckly real and relatable and her stories are quick moving and full of zest.   This one was especially fun, because the reader is allowed lots of room along with Zoe to try to figure out what little things to change to get a better outcome! 


  1. What a fascinating premise for a book! I am definitely going to check this book out. Thanks for the review.

  2. This book sounds absolutely fascinating. I have to add this to my list and read it soon. I can't wait to check it out. Great review! :)

  3. I hadn't heard of this book, but I loved The Heir-Apparent by her. This will go on my list.

  4. This seems like a real departure for her, but I love her writing and it's a fascinating premise. It sounds quite dark, but you call it fun, so I'm guessing she finally figures out how to save the day?


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