CBR14BINGO: Time Square
(Hitting the nail on the head here. Very literal. Time in the title. The whole plot is about Time. You get it.)
Alice is about to turn 40. A milestone birthday for anyone, but particularly for someone who generally keeps their life on an unproblematic even keel. She lives in New York City where she grew up. Works in the admissions department of her old high school, walking the same hallways of her youth. She even has a convenient boyfriend that doesn’t make any demands. Alice’s life is fairly uncomplicated until she has to bear witness to the slow decline of her father’s health.
Alice visits her father in the hospital from initial illness, to organ shut down, to the point where he can no longer communicate with her. She begins to realize that death isn’t always quick. It is often a slow and painful march to the end. Mourning the loss of her father while he is still clinging to life, Alice’s even-keeled life begins to tip over on her “big” birthday. She has to evaluate the son of her high school crush for pre-school acceptance and meet his perfect wife. Her convenient boyfriend inconveniently asks her to marry him.
In an attempt to drown her sorrows, Alice ends her birthday with a wee bit too much to drink at the watering hole of her youth. Stumbling back to her father’s empty apartment she passes out and (I’m sorry but I have to) falls down a metaphorical rabbit hole. When she wakes up, it’s her 16th birthday and she’s late for her SAT prep class. Her father is sitting at the kitchen table and her best friend is at the door.
So many time travel books are written today and coming up with something new is a challenge. Staub doesn’t attempt to reinvent the timey-wimey wheel here but still manages to make it fresh. While Alice does seek to use her new time-traveling ability to alter her father’s terrible future, this book is more about finding the moments worth hanging on to. Rather than re-writing or “fixing” the past, Alice learns more about embracing the messy parts of life. Living a life rather than tolerating it.