Odessa Again, by Dana Reinhardt, for Timeslip Tuesday

Odessa Again, by Dana Reinhardt Wendy Lamb Books (May 14, 2013)

Fourth-grader Odessa's life has just shifted unpleasantly.  Her parents have gotten divorced, and she has moved into a new house with her mother and little brother, Oliver (aka the toad).   At least, after vigorous complaining and cajoling, she's been able to get a room of her own, up in the attic...but what she really wants is for her father and mother to be together again (and for her father not to be marrying Jennifer, nice though she is).  And it would be nice if her ex-best friend, Claire, were still speaking to her...

One day, in an ordinary fit of 9 year old rage, she is stomping across the floor of her attic...when the extraordinary happens.  Odessa slips backwards 24 hours in time.  Yay!  She can fix everything that went wrong the day before.   It's not a one time fluke either--the next time she tries stomping (deliberately) she goes back 23 hours.  And voila! Small embarrassments at school (the sort that seem large to a kid!) can be anticipated and avoided.

Gradually Odessa, tremendously immature at first (she is only 9, after all), begins to think.   There are only 24 hours, after all...and so she begins to try to use her time-slipping more carefully, to fix the more important things, like her friendship with Claire.

But the most important thing to fix, of course, is her parents ex-marriage.  Will a few hours rewound be enough to ruin the wedding of her father and Jennifer, and bring her parents back together?

Odessa is not an immediately likable character for much of the book, but she's a tremendously relatable one.   Fortunately, her time-travelling does kick her forward into greater maturity, and she learns (in a non-preachy, but profound) way, what things really matter.  This includes being more thoughtful regarding poor Oliver (who, though objectionable in many younger brotherly ways, deserves more sisterly affection).   I don't think it will come as a surprise to the reader when Odessa's parents (though they continue to be friendly to each other) don't get back together--this sympathetic, picture of divorced parents might well be comforting to a young child of (amicable) divorce.

In short--a fun concept, engagingly executed.  It skews a tad younger than 11 Birthdays, by Wendy Mass (my review), a book with a similar "do-over" premise; that one I'd recommend to grown-ups, Odessa not so much, although the target audience of 8-10 year old girls should enjoy it lots, and I myself had a pleasant time reading it!  There's a slight teaser for a sequel, and if there is one, I'll be reading it.

Here's the bit that I found most poignant--Odessa gradually gets to know the old lady who owns the house they are living in, and sometimes stops in to visit her and eat cookies (spurred initially by Odessa quite naturally wanting to know more about her attic!).  After not going for a while, she is enjoying that day's cookies, and in a flash of insight (part of her growing maturity), she wonders how many cookies the old lady baked on the days she didn't come.... I like a nice intergenerational friendship, and this one pleased me.

Here's another review, at Jen Robinson's Book Page.


  1. I'm glad you thought this was for the 8-10 age range, as well. It was a change for time travel-- more realistic.

  2. Thanks for linking to my review, Charlotte. I agree with the 8 to 10 classification, too. And I liked that the parents didn't get back together. The relationship with the older woman was great. I liked when Odessa arranged to get her some flowers. Very nice!

  3. I can't wait to read this one as I love short-term time travel stories! I like to think if any of us had the chance for "do-overs" we would learn from the experience and be wiser as a result.


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