The Grave, by James Heneghan, for Timeslip Tueday

 That was the longest break I ever took from blogging!  But the desperate times of moving out of work are pretty much over, and so here I am again, ready with a time travel book for this Tuesday!

The Grave, by James Heneghan (2000), cannot be described as a comfort read (although it has a happy ending).  It starts in 1974 in Liverpool with its 13 year old protagonist, Tom, climbing down into a mass grave of Irish famine victims.  The stacks and stacks of rotting coffins are being cleared away to make way for new construction in a very hush hush way, and Tom was curious about what was happening.  Surrounded by the dead, Tom travels back in time to Ireland during the famine, arriving in an isolated community just in time to save a boy from drowning.

The boy's family extends to Tom all the hospitality they can, though they have little food to share.  The Monaghans do, though, have love for each other, and this is something that's been in short supply in Tom's life.  Abandoned as a baby, he's spent his life bouncing between foster parents.  His current ones are awful, abusive, and spitefully mean.  

He returns to his own time, but is drawn back to the Monaghans, briefly living episodes of their life (being evicted from their home, the starving journey to find passage to Liverpool, the sickness and despair they find in the city once they reach it).  But though he keeps returning to his own life, he spends enough time with this family that they become his family as well.  Two of them even survive (like I said, not a comfort read).

And back in the present, Tom finds himself more protective of the special needs boy he's fostered with, until Brian too is family.  Even more miraculously, because he travelled in time, he's able to find his birth parents, and so there is a happy ending that would not have been possible if he hadn't suffered alongside the Monaghans.....

Can't say I enjoyed it, but I think it is a good book--the writing is very vivid, the character growth satisfying, and there is enough relationship between past and present to make the story hang together well.  It is grim, but not as depressing as you might expect; Tom's first person point of view is lively and sharp, and entertaining except for in the darkest moments. I may well have enjoyed it more if graves dug up for construction projects weren't something I have to think about for work.

(this might be the worst cover of all the 400 or so time travel books I've reviewed.  Who thought his hair sticking up in that weird way added anything of value????)

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