Author: Rachel Barenbaum
Published: April 5, 2022
Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 3 stars
Three generations of women work together and travel through time to prevent the Chernobyl disaster and right the wrongs of their past.
Three brilliant women.
Two life-changing mistakes.
One chance to reset the future.
In 1986, renowned nuclear scientist, Anna Berkova, is sleeping in her bed in the Soviet Union when Chernobyl’s reactor melts down. It’s the exact moment she tears through time—and it’s an accident. When she opens her eyes, she’s landed in 1992 only to discover Molly, her estranged daughter, shot in the chest. Molly, with her dying breath, begs Anna to go back in time and stop the disaster, to save Molly’s daughter Raisa, and put their family’s future on a better path.
In ‘60s Philadelphia, Molly is coming of age as an adopted refusenik. Her family is full of secrets and a past they won’t share. She finds solace in comic books, drawing her own series, Atomic Anna, and she’s determined to make it as an artist. When she meets the volatile, charismatic Viktor, their romance sets her life on a very different course.
In the ‘80s, Raisa, is a lonely teen and math prodigy, until a quiet, handsome boy moves in across the street and an odd old woman shows up claiming to be her biological grandmother. As Raisa finds new issues of Atomic Anna in unexpected places, she notices each comic challenges her to solve equations leading to one impossible conclusion: time travel. And she finally understands what she has to do.
As these remarkable women work together to prevent the greatest nuclear disaster of the 20th century, they grapple with the power their discoveries hold. Just because you can change the past, does it mean you should?
This book gave me anxiety! I’m a historian and a traditional one at that! And when someone, anyone starts messing with time, I get all clenchy inside! And in this book, everyone treats time with no respect!! Just going back in time, willy-nilly, not caring about the effects! Sooner, later, trying fix stuff from the last trip … it was just exhausting. The story itself was ok, and the characters were likable. The people that I felt were so underappreciated were Yulia and Lazar. They adopted their friend’s child without complaint and she turned into a brat! Molly and Anna kinda ruined the book for me. They’re the type of women who do what they want without a single thought about how their actions affect anyone else. I greatly dislike people like that. And the lesson, I just didn’t get it. The resolution was murky and unsatisfying. I’m glad I read this book … but I doubt I’ll ever read it again.
The Year We Turned Forty
Published: April 26, 2016
Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: May 2-8, 2020
Jessica’s Rating: 4 stars
If you could repeat one year of your life, what would you do differently? This heartwarming and hilarious novel from the authors of The Status of All Things and Your Perfect Life features three best friends who get the chance to return to the year they turned forty—the year that altered all of their lives, in ways big and small—and also get the opportunity to change their future.
Jessie loves her son Lucas more than anything, but it tears her up inside that he was conceived in an affair that ended her marriage to a man she still loves, a man who just told her he’s getting remarried. This time around, she’s determined to bury the secret of Lucas’ paternity, and to repair the fissures that sent her wandering the first time.
Gabriela regrets that she wasted her most fertile years in hot pursuit of a publishing career. Yes, she’s one of the biggest authors in the world, but maybe what she really wanted to create was a family. With a chance to do it again, she’s focused on convincing her husband, Colin, to give her the baby she desires.
Claire is the only one who has made peace with her past: her twenty-two year old daughter, Emily, is finally on track after the turmoil of adolescence, and she’s recently gotten engaged, with the two carat diamond on her finger to prove it. But if she’s being honest, Claire still fantasizes about her own missed opportunities: a chance to bond with her mother before it was too late, and the possibility of preventing her daughter from years of anguish. Plus, there’s the man who got away—the man who may have been her one true love.
But it doesn’t take long for all three women to learn that re-living a life and making different decisions only leads to new problems and consequences—and that the mistakes they made may, in fact, have been the best choices of all…
I just had my big 40th birthday at the end of April and thought that this novel would be a good one to start my new decade of life, and it was! The authors, Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke have been BFFs for many years and written quite a few novels together, but this is the first one of theirs I have read.
The Year We Turned Forty focuses on three ladies (Jessie, Gabriela, and Claire) who have been friends forever. They have all just recently turned 50 and are given a special opportunity to go back ten years to the year they all turned 40 and re-live that year. This was the year that changed everything for the ladies in different ways and they all have their reasons for wanting to go back. But will going back in time and making different choices make life better or worse? And what ultimate choice will they make?
This is a thought provoking and also very enjoyable novel. Who hasn’t thought about if you could go back and change something? If given the opportunity, would you actually do it and what happens to the rest of the world with changing just one decision???? One decision can change so much, and it might not actually be for the better.
The Year We Turned Forty may have been my first novel by ‘Liz & Lisa’ but it will not be my last. I will be reading them again!
Author: Octavia E. Butler
Published: June 1976
Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: April 18-26, 2019
Jessica’s Rating: 5 stars
The first science fiction written by a black woman, Kindred has become a cornerstone of black American literature. This combination of slave memoir, fantasy, and historical fiction is a novel of rich literary complexity.
Having just celebrated her 26th birthday in 1976 California, Dana, an African-American woman, is suddenly and inexplicably wrenched through time into antebellum Maryland. After saving a drowning white boy there, she finds herself staring into the barrel of a shotgun and is transported back to the present just in time to save her life. During numerous such time-defying episodes with the same young man, she realizes the challenge she’s been given: to protect this young slaveholder until he can father her own great-grandmother.
I came across Kindred when I was looking for books for First Line Friday, and this one has a doozy:
I lost an arm on my last trip home. My left arm.
That first line, the book description, and the fact that it is the first science fiction written by a black woman piqued my interest in Kindred. My library also offered it in audiobook format: SCORE! The only thing I was worried about was when I borrowed it was the age of the book. Written 30+ years ago, some sci-fi books do not ‘age well’ and become dated quickly. This did not end up being an issue for me as I felt this could take place now. You guys know by now that I am selective with sci-fi and even more selective with fantasy. And did you say TIME TRAVEL!?!?!?! That is the kind of sci-fi and fantasy I can read!
Kindred blew me away. This novel will be in my top reads of the year. I was intrigued the whole time listening to the audiobook and had no idea how it was going to end. It twisted in ways that I did not expect and then that shocker of an ending: OMG, I would have never expected that! This needs to become a limited series that stays true to the novel. Octavia Butler wowed me with Kindred, this is a novel everyone needs to read!
If you are looking for answers to why or how Dana time travels, you will be disappointed. Kindred does not explain the time travel, but the strength of the novel is on the time, location and people of the antebellum time period. Butler must have heavily researched for the novel. Dana interprets the how and why her time traveling happens, hoping she is correct in her thoughts.
Since Kindred takes us back in time, we get a clear picture how slavery was from the view of the African American. Yes, the ‘N word’ is used a great deal in this novel, but that was how people spoke in antebellum times. Parts of the novel will be difficult for some to read. This is a novel that will have you thinking about it long after you have finished reading it.
Kindred is very highly recommended.[Top]