"All Our Yesterdays" by debut author Cristin Terrill is a time travel story that seems to do everything right. The narration, the dialogue, the characters, the plot all work together so beautifully that the reader becomes immersed in the story from the very beginning.
The author constructs the novel entirely in first person present-tense narrative, but the alternating narrators tell the story four years apart for most of the book. What makes this one more than "just another" time travel novel are the questions that are raised. Can a good person become evil? Does the end justify the means? And the tried and true (and trite) question: If you could go back in time and kill Hitler before he began to perpetrate evil, would you?
In this story, Marina, James and Finn are all friends. James is the centerpiece -- best friends to both Marina and Finn. James comes from a wealthy, political, old-money family; his parents were killed years ago and he is being raised by his older brother. Marina's father works nonstop making millions for her mother to spend, and Marina sees neither of them regularly. Finn is a scholarship student whose parents scrape by. Yet the three remain good friends.
The action begins four years in the future. Em and Finn have occupied side-by-side cells. They have listened to each other being alternately tortured, and they have comforted each other. When they escape, they know they have to travel back to the past. Em finds her instructions under the drain pipe in her cell.
But killing a good friend -- a best friend -- is not easy.
This is a story for young adult readers, but it will be equally enjoyed by adults. It's gripping, touching, and thoughtful. It's a wonderful study of moral dilemmas. Can "doing the right thing" demand murder?
Please note: This review is based on the final hardcover book provided by the publisher, Disney-Hyperion, for review purposes.
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