Timeslip Tuesday--Frannie In Pieces

Today's Timeslip book is Frannie in Pieces, by Delia Ephron (2007, Harper Collins, 374 pp). Warning: this is a spoilerish review (for instance, I've already indicated that this is a timeslip story, which the reader won't even start realizing until page 142,and the where and when parts aren't made clear until much later. However, the reader finds out on page 6 that Frannie's father has just died, so I too feel comfortable starting there, without spoiling too much.

Frannie's parents are divorced, and although she lives with her mother, she spends much of her time happily with her father, helping him scrounge for found art in the trash, admiring his woodworking, and doing her own drawings. But one afternoon, she finds him lying dead on the bathroom floor. Sorting through his belongings weeks later, she finds a present--a beautiful wooden box, with her name, Frances Anne, and the number 1000, engraved on it. Inside are painted wooden puzzle pieces, and a picture of a village by the sea. Taking home this gift, she starts to secretly piece the puzzle together...and (Oh bother. I don't want to spoil it. But this is where the timeslipping happens).

In the meantime, her mother has landed her with a job as a camp counselor, where she sets the kids to work on a collage of common household poisons (until they start having nightmares) and tries to think of cunning retorts to throw back at her cute, and very annoying, fellow counselor Simon. Her best friend Jenna is in love, the existence of her stepfather has shifted her relationship with her mother for the worse, and above all, she misses her father. These unexceptional plot lines are leavened with humor, and Ephron is good at showing what Frannie is thinking without putting it into explicit words. When Jenna visits for the first time after Frannie's Dad dies, Frannie is trying to get under her bed. Here's Frannie's reaction, when Jenna begins to cry: "I scooted under the bed. All the way under this time. I am a turtle, and this is my shell." Frannie's time as a reluctant camp counselor is one of the more entertaining examples of this sub genre that I've read, and indeed, there are lots of little funny bits, such as a timetravling crumb of Velveeta cheese, that fell with Frannie into the puzzle...

Frannie slowly fits more pieces together, alone at night in her room, visiting the village by the sea, where, maybe, her father waits for her, and the book ends, logically enough, when the pieces are together. The time traveling element could easily have been left out of the book--the puzzle could have been just that, and Frannie could have put the pieces of herself and her family together without the help of its magic. And indeed, it takes so long for anything magical to happen, and she spends so little time in the magical “there” that it almost seems like an afterthought. But still, it made the book stand out in my mind—it would still have been a good book, but not as memorable as I found it.

If you have a timeslip review to share, please leave me a link!

Lisa of Under the Covers is in with a look at a great timeslip book for younger readers--Time Cat, by Lloyd Alexander. Thanks, Lisa!

1 comment:

  1. I'm a sucker for camp stories, so I'll have to check it out!

    I posted about Time Cat, by Lloyd Alexander, one of my favorite books from childhood.


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