Thursday 15 February 2024

Review: Countdown to Yesterday

James’ parents are divorcing. This news is dumped on the eleven -year-old while at the dinner table. First it seems they are moving house again. But things soon become clear.

Mum disconnects herself from her family by taking her maiden name back and renting a tiny apartment to live in. James can’t understand why this decision has been made and doesn’t ask.

He struggles to live a life between two parents. He is permanently friendless and finds it hard to connect with other people.

James is drawn to Yan, another lonely soul with a brilliant mind. A friendship grows.

His dad has sixteen computers in his man cave and his main one has an internet Time Machine programmed into it.

 It can revert to any point in time showing every memory connected to that point.

James' science week project is pending, and he decides to use Time Travel as his subject.

He obsesses over all that will never happen again now that his parents have separated. He believes that if he finds the perfect memory, safe, predictable, and perfect, and returns to that point in time and stays there, he will be relieved of his shattered life.

With Yan controlling the time machine and the coordinates, James finds that the memories recalled are not the way that he remembers them. One by one, they are cancelled out.

 While seeking the perfect memory, he finds himself and his own truth.

I loved this brilliant coming-of-age story with its outstanding prose and memorable turns of phrase. It is a rapid page-turner that subtly reveals the necessity of memories, but also how they are seldom exactly as they are recalled, therefore can’t be trusted.

At times they must be left in the past where they belong.

Title: Countdown to Yesterday
Author: Shirley Marr
Publisher: Penguin, $16.99
Publication Date: 30 January 2024
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9781761340598
For ages: 10+
Type: Middle Grade Fiction