One Way or Another, by Annette Laing (2016), the fourth volume of The Snipesville Chronicles, brings this extraordinary time travel adventure to a satisfying conclusion. The books are the story of three Snipesville, Georgia, kids--Brandon, who is black and whose family has deep Snipesville roots, and siblings Alex and Hannah Dias, who are white recent arrivals. A mysterious professor launches them into a series of time travel adventures, some in England, where they become linked to a particular family there in the early and mid twentieth century, and some to the past of Snipesville.
As I have come to expect from the previous Snipesville book, Annette Laing is not afraid to tackle difficult historical subjects. Alex and Eric (from WW II England) travel to early 20th century Snipesville, and find that there they are grown men, though Alex is still 11 inside, and find jobs at the local newspaper. Brandon has also travelled to the same time and place, but being a strange black teenager in Georgia means he has to experience a level of racism that is stunningly awful. Alex wants to help, but he is only 11, and his efforts to publish articles fighting racism end up becoming a match set to a powder keg, though things were ready to explode in any event.
Hannah has travelled back to the same time, but she is in England working as a maid, trying to make sure the life of a young woman named Elizabeth, who she had previously met in the 1940s and 50s, plays out the way it should. Hannah's story is one of household drudgery and the women's rights movement, and is another interesting bit of social history.
And social history is really the driving engine of this fourth book in particular. For instance, Brandon's efforts to raise funds for a Snipesville high school for black students take him on a journey to meet W.E.B. Du Bois and Booker T. Washington, who had rather different ideas about what education for African Americans should look like, and now I know this. Although I am favor of learning history through fiction, One Way or Another is a rather long book, and sometimes the stories of the time-travelling individuals gets lost in the stories of social injustice. Each story-the Georgia one and the England one-- had enough meat of action and character and history to be a standalone book in its own right. They are good stories, and if you are a reader willing to take time with a book, you will enjoy them.
This book will work much better if you have read the first three, but it you are keenly interested in early 20th century social history presented through a fictional lens, do give it a try regardless. Annette Laing is a former academic historian, and I found no reason to question any of the history presented here (although goodness knows it's not my own time period or place, which is 17th-century New England).
Here are my reviews of the first three books:
Don't Know Where, Don't Know When (which was my very first Timeslip Tuesday review)
A Different Day, a Different Destiny
Look Ahead, Look Back
With regard to the time travel, driven by the actions of the enigmatic professor--my head hurt trying to figure it all out, because the kids bounce so very much around in time, meeting old versions of people they knew when young and vice versa. So I just shrugged and accepted it all.
Finally thought--The Snipesville Chronicles are excellent historical fiction, heavy on the historical information, but not in a bad way, with fascinating scenarios being played out by modern kids visiting the past.
random aside--I love the name of Snipesville's new coffee house, the Sippin' Snipe. The ambiguity (though grammatically its a sipping bird, it also suggests Sip 'n' Snipe--the opportunity to sit and gossip unkindly) tickles me greatly.
disclaimer: review copy received from the author