Teenage Books Jan Slepian Back to Before

ISBN 13: 9780399220111

Back to Before

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9780399220111: Back to Before

Two cousins who have each lost a parent--one to divorce, the other to a heart attack--are swept into a time warp that takes them back in time when Linny's mother was still alive and Hilary's father lived at home.

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From School Library Journal:

Grade 5-8-In this time-travel novel, Slepian explores issues surrounding loss and death. Linny (Lionel), 11, finds camaraderie with his cousin Hilary, whom he is visiting for the summer at her new home in Vermont. During the past year, his mother has died and Hilary's father has left home. Checking out an odd section of broken road on a foggy morning after a big storm, they find themselves transported back, along with a brass ring they have found, one year in the past, to their old Brooklyn neighborhood. There they feel they can change the course of events that has caused so much disruption in their lives. Linny intends to prevent his mother's death, and Hilary wants to keep her father from leaving home. At the last minute, before they can alter anything but their own viewpoints, they are transported back to the present. Linny lets go of his guilt over feeling resentful about caring for a peevish, sick parent, and Hilary acknowledges that her father was having an affair. While the characters are interestingly developed with individual personalities, and the novel has its share of suspense when the two lose the ring and are unsure how they will return to their own time, ultimately the book is not as noteworthy as Slepian's Risk n' Roses (1990) and The Broccoli Tapes (1989, both Philomel). Her explanation for the cousins' time traveling is not entirely convincing. If it is true that they are in a parallel time, why are there not two Linnys in Brooklyn? In spite of some lapses in logic, the book is an insightful and engaging read.
Ellen G. Fader, Oregon State Library, Salem
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Publishers Weekly:

"My, she's a tall one. . . . How old are you, sweetheart?" a walk-on character called Mrs. Fried-egg asks one of Slepian's 11-year-old protagonists. "Forty-three," Hilary replies serenely. Besides an acerbic wit, Hilary and her cousin Linny have something else in common: each must come to terms with deep loss: Linny's mother has died and Hilary's parents have divorced. Then a time warp (or is it only a bicycle accident?) flings them back a year, "back to before all the pain began." It seems like a heaven-sent opportunity to prevent the past's tragedies--or to reevaluate them altogether. Slepian ( The Broccoli Tapes ) shows keen psychological insight, and she leavens her serious themes with the time-travel motif and its attendant subplots (e.g., how will the children return, what role is played by a certain brass ring). A skillful combination of the poignant and the fantastic. Ages 10-14.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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