Review by Booklist Review
On her fortieth birthday, Alice overdoes it with her best friend and wakes up, in her teenage bedroom, on her sixteenth birthday in the mid-nineties. At first, this is unsettling, but then it's pretty cool. There's her author father, Leonard, dying in the present, and the cute guy she let get away then; the stalled-out career now, and the unbelievable youth--her father's especially--that she took for granted back. And while it costs her a day each time, she can go back over and over, making decisions in the past that alter her present both subtly and significantly. Her main focus? Setting Leonard on a path that doesn't end in the hospital in the today she started out with. Despite its sparkly time-travel concept (cleverly mirrored by Time Brothers, Leonard's sf novel that became a beloved 1980s TV show), this addictive and lovely novel is Straub's (All Adults Here, 2020) "smallest" so far, focusing ultimately on a single character and her most treasured relationship. Yet it contains no less of Straub's signature warmth and authenticity. Alice asks herself questions we all might, given the opportunity to enter a broom closet and exit as our former selves, and has trouble letting go of her newfound ability or knowing when she should.
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
Straub (All Adults Here) offers a delightful take on time travel involving a woman and her famous father. As it opens, Alice Stern, a week shy of 40, is visiting her gravely ill father, Leonard, author of a bestselling time-travel novel, in the hospital. Her parents divorced when she was six, and she has remained extremely close to her father ever since. She lives alone in the Brooklyn apartment she's had since she was 25, dates a guy named Matt, and works in the admissions office at the prestigious high school she attended. When she hears about former classmate Tommy Joffey's son applying to the school, she remembers how they were close until he had sex with another girl at Alice's 16th birthday party. Then Matt proposes, and she breaks up with him. After a big night of drinks on her birthday, she sleeps in the guardhouse on her father's property. When she wakes up, it's her 16th birthday in 1996. As a 40-year-old presenting as a teen, she sets out to reverse her father's fate as well as change what happens with Tommy. She also learns Leonard can time-travel, too, a twist that Straub skillfully exploits without letting things get confusing, and which enriches the impact of love and loss on the characters. Readers will be captivated. Agent: Claudia Ballard, WME. (May)Correction: An earlier version of this review misstated where the character Matt worked.
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Review by Library Journal Review
Best-selling novelist Straub (All Adults Here) uses time travel to imagine how decisions influence future selves--or not. Alice is celebrating her 40th birthday. She is relatively happy, although she wonders whether she could have made better choices along the way. Her father, Leonard, is dying of an undiagnosed illness, causing Alice grief and anxiety. After a birthday binge at a subway bar, Alice goes to her childhood home. Once there, she can't find her keys, so she settles down in the property's garden shack, where she falls asleep. She then wakes up in her childhood bed on her 16th birthday in 1996, 24 years earlier. She finds her father hale and hearty, just as he had been. With her 16-year-old body and her 40-year-old perspective, life choices take on a different meaning. Alice learns she can travel back and forth to this one day anytime. In her many subsequent visits to the past, she tries out different decisions to see how they change the future. This remarkable story addresses the hopes and fears of every adult. Narrator Marin Ireland deftly portrays a wide range of emotions that drive the story. VERDICT Highly recommended for listeners of general and science fiction.--Joanna M. Burkhardt
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Review by Kirkus Book Review
A woman who's been drifting through life wakes up the morning after her 40th birthday to discover that she's just turned 16 again. Alice Stern wouldn't say she's unhappy. She lives in a studio apartment in Brooklyn; has a job in the admissions office of the Upper West Side private school she attended as a kid; still hangs out with Sam, her childhood best friend; and has a great relationship with her father, Leonard, the famous author of a time-travel novel, Time Brothers. Alice's mother left her and Leonard when Alice was a kid, and father and daughter formed a tight, loving unit along with their freakishly long-lived cat, Ursula. But now Leonard is in a coma, and as she visits him in the hospital every day, Alice is forced to reckon with her life. After a drunken birthday evening with Sam, Alice returns to her childhood house on Pomander Walk, a one-block-long gated street running between two avenues on the UWS--but when she wakes up the next morning, she hears Leonard in the kitchen and finds herself heading off to SAT tutoring and preparing for her 16th birthday party that night. Straub's novel has echoes of Thornton Wilder's play Our Town: Every prosaic detail of her earlier life is almost unbearably poignant to Alice, and the chance to spend time with her father is priceless. As she moves through her day, she tries to figure out how to get back to her life as a 40-year-old and whether there's anything she can do in the past to improve her future--and save her father's life. As always, Straub creates characters who feel fully alive, exploring the subtleties of their thoughts, feelings, and relationships. It's hard to say more without giving away the delightful surprises of the book's second half, but be assured that Straub's time-travel shenanigans are up there with Kate Atkinson's Life After Life and the TV show Russian Doll. Combine Straub's usual warmth and insight with the fun of time travel and you have a winner. Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.