In this novel, time travel is not just a hypothetical, science-fiction theory that is fun to think and speculate about—it is real and has real-life repercussions for people. Here we see the possibilities of time travel played out in a most altruistic way—it is being used to save someone else’s life at the cost of one’s own. Miranda, who is obsessed with a fictional account of time travel, realizes the stark difference between the concept as written about in a story and seeing it happen in her own life. The future that Marcus comes from is hinted at being one that is not very pleasant; his future self refers to the ozone layer being completely burned away and the sun’s rays being seriously harmful to humans. Because he is a homeless man in 1979, however, most people dismiss him as crazy. Even in his youth, Marcus has a firm grasp of time travel, and in his conversations with Miranda he reveals his faith that it is truly possible. It obviously becomes a life passion for him, and his research leads him to the fruition of that original faith.
Most of the novel centers on Miranda’s friendships with her classmates. These friendships are not just passing trifles for her; they make her life happy or miserable. When her friendship with Sal inexplicably deteriorates, she is devastated and tries to cope as best she can. Miranda is able to befriend Annemarie because Annemarie’s best friend, Julia, was in a fight with her at the time; so Miranda stepped in to fill in the gap. This type of bickering and friend swapping is very typical of sixth graders, and Stead shows the powerful impact that it can have on their lives. They might just seem like petty fights to the adults, but these fights are life changing for the girls. The author captures well this drama and seriousness. Miranda spends the entire novel trying to cope with being without her best friend, Sal, and in making inroads with...
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