In what must be the most frightening birthday surprise ever, on Dana’s 26th birthday, as she is moving into a new house with her husband Kevin, she suddenly feels dizzy and gets transported away from her safe and familiar surroundings in 1976. She comes to in the woods by a river, where a boy is in the process of drowning. Dana reacts instinctively and wades into the water, rescuing the boy. Faced with the boy’s hysterical mother, and more terrifyingly, the boy’s angry father, who points a rifle at her, Dana is suddenly back with her husband. She might have believed that she hallucinated the whole thing, except she’s wet and muddy and bruised after being pummelled by the boy’s hysterical mother.
It doesn’t take long before it happens again. Now Dana is transported into an old house, and has to put out a fire in some curtains. While it’s barely been a few hours for Dana in 1976, the boy she rescued in the river has clearly aged a few years. Not only that, he lives in the early 19th Century, in Maryland, long before slavery was abolished. While the boy, Rufus, gets increasingly older with each new encounter, barely any time passes in Dana’s present between each new and terrifying time jump. She’s unable to relax and enjoy her life, never sure when she may be suddenly dragged back through time. She begins keeping supplies with her in a bag, tied to her body, and her visits in the past seem to last longer with each new encounter.
At first Dana, who is a young black woman, cannot understand what connects her to this white man, but as she learns more about him and where he’s from, she figures out that he must be one of her ancestors and something inexplicable is drawing her to him every time he is in danger. She needs to make sure he stays alive long enough to father the girl who will pass on Dana’s family line. With each consecutive stay in the past, Dana’s own life is further endangered, and there is the very real and scary possibility that she might die, trying to ensure that she ever gets born in the first place.
Full review on my blog.