A Long Way from Home, by Laura Schaefer, for Timeslip Tuesday

It is always very welcome when a book gives me the unexpected pleasure of having time travel in it, because I am not a plan-in-advance person, and it is always touch and go ig I'll have a Timeslip Tuesday book.  A Long Way from Home, by Laura Schaefer (October  2022, Carolrhoda Books) gave me that pleasure, and the pleasure of a very good read as well!  

Abby is unhappily uprooted from home in Pennsylvania when her brilliant engineer mother gets a job with Space Now in Florida.  Now she has to add being a new friendless kid to the constant big worries about climate change and the state of the world that weigh her down.  Juliana, her school assigned mentor, is Friendly as all get out, but Abby still wants to just hole up in her new house, wanting to go back home....

But then she meets two strange boys, Adam and Bix.  They are strange not just in the stranger sense, but in off kilterness of clothes, language, way of being in the world....  They ask for her help--they are a long way from home, looking for their sister, V, and need a place to stay.  She's able to offer them her dad's boat, currently going unused.  Once they are settled there, the boys tell Abby more of their story.  They have come from about 250 years in the future, and they need to find V and get back before they through the timeline out of whack.

The boys' future tech give Abby a glimpse of the future, and too her great relief, all the problems of Earth in the present are solved.  She offers to help the boys, if they will take her forward to their time when they leave...and they sort of agree. 

So 2 future kids needing some tech help and food for a few weeks makes Abby's life busy.  Fortunately she has made contact with her Great Aunt Nora, a former space engineer herself who is now a recluse, and fortunately Nora agrees to help keep Adam  and Bix safe.  And in the end, Juliana the mentor now turned friend and even Abby's mom are all part of Operation find the missing sister and send the strangers back to the future....maybe with Abby, maybe not.

So much for plot synopsis.  I am now asking myself which part of the book I liked best--the realistic, character-driven part, or the sci fi time travel part....

The character part is hard to beat.  Abby isn't magically unanxious by the end of the book, and she still needs her coping mechanisms, but she is stronger, with a more mature perspective, and her character growth was truly moving.  She and her mother also open healthier channels of communication, which helps.  The supporting cast were all interesting too, and I loved the inclusion of Abby's mom and aunt reflecting on the challenges of being women in their field.  There are also puppies, courtesy of Juliana. 

And another small thing that sticks in my head--Great Aunt Nora, a recluse in a big old house, haunted by guilt after a mission she worked on failed, has taken up painting.  She is very bad at it, and knows this, but this does not stop her, because she wants to keep painting.  Possibly this is the most useful  'lesson' the book offers to its readers, and it  ties in with Abby doing small things to save the planet--obviously she won't succeed in any splendid way, but she realizes it is the doing that is important, even when the goal will never be reached.

The sci fi part provides impetus for action and tension, what with the ticking clock of the mission, technical difficulties, and secrets that the two boys aren't sharing.    There are very few books in which kids from the future come to visit, so this was a fun change for me. It was good time travel, too, and the out-of-placeness of the boys and their reactions to what to them was the distant past made for entertaining reading without feeling over the top.  There's a bit of mystery at play too.

Final answer--a really good book to have on hand when you are stuck at a car repair place waiting to find out how many hundreds of dollars you are about to lose.  I was engrossed, and moved, and even inspired/not quite dry eyed.....and I bet my reaction would have been much the same if I'd read it at the target audience age of 11 or so.

disclaimer--review copy received for Cybils Awards reading

1 comment:

  1. This sounds really dear! I love the detail of the aunt taking up painting while knowing she'll never be that good at it.


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