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Have you ever wondered how one decision can change your life? If you decide to cross the street at a certain time, does that affect your life? There was a lot of pondering about destiny and fate and what is or isn’t meant to be in this novel. Hannah is at club one night. She meets up with Ethan, a guy she had dated in high school. The book splits into alternating sections: one timeline where she decided to stay at the club with Ethan and one where she leaves with her friend to go home.
I really liked the premise. I enjoy the author and have read all of her books. I was very excited for this one to come out, and I finished it quickly. I would’ve preferred it to be a little less chick-lit-centric, but other than that, I enjoyed it. I like the idea of alternate universes, how each decision we make in life creates a different universe and that there are billions of possible universes where we are living different lives.
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This book was an interesting blend of historical fiction, mystery, and science fiction. I can certainly see why it won the Newbery Award, since it is well written, pays homage to a “classic” children’s book, and has a nostalgia factor for the teachers and librarians who grew up in the 70s and 80s — especially with all the references to Miranda’s mom practicing for her appearance on the game show $20,000 Pyramid. I suspect, though, that a lot of tweens and teens would find it difficult to really get hooked on this story. I was curious about how things would play out in the end, but the story didn’t exactly keep me on the edge of my seat.
One day, as Miranda walked home with her best friend, Sal, he got punched in the stomach. The kid who punched him was new to the neighborhood and didn’t even know Miranda or Sal, so there didn’t seem to be any reason for the attack. Even worse? Right after that incident, Sal began to get distant . Miranda felt lost without Sal, since the two of them had been constant companions since their early childhood. And then, when the hidden/”emergency” key to her apartment went missing and she found a strange note hidden in a library book, Miranda got understandably freaked out. Especially since the author of the note seemed to know things about her — even things that hadn’t happened yet.
Fans of A Wrinkle in Time are sure to enjoy the way Miranda’s life experiences have parallels to that book and make her question the real possibilities of time travel. I think there are enough details, nevertheless, that the story will still make sense to readers who aren’t familiar with L’Engle’s work.
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I have always loved fairy tales, though I have often wondered how it was that all the “big bads” got away with so much. Why was it that no one ever stepped up and did anything about the people who abused their power? Sure, Cinderella got away from her terrible stepmother — but why wasn’t her stepmother held accountable for the things she had done? This story goes outside the box and brings a little bit of justice into the mix with the Fairy Tale Reform School. The teachers at FTRS — such as Cinderella’s stepmother, the sea witch from the Little Mermaid, and the wolf from Little Red Riding Hood — are actually working to atone for their bad deeds. Such a clever premise!
Readers are introduced to the intricacies of the FTRS via Gilly, a petty thief who has been sentenced to three months at FTRS. As the child of a poor cobbler whose business has hit a rough patch, thanks to fairy godmothers producing glass slippers for the royal princesses, Gilly tries to justify her thefts as necessary for the survival of her hungry siblings. As soon as she gets to FTRS, she tries to think of a plan to run away so that she can get back to taking care of her siblings, but her plan is thwarted. Luckily, her attempted escape helps her to befriend another student, Jax, who is also friends with her roommate, Kayla. The three students soon discover that the “formerly” villainous teachers might not be as reformed as everyone else believes and set out to discover what they’re up to before it’s too late. I recommend this story to fans of Adam Gidwitz’ Grimm series.