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There Is No There, There

The title is from a Gertrude Stein Quote: "When you get there, there is no there, there." Books are my favorite form of escapism and the book that can keep me up late at night against reason and sense is a rare and beautiful thing. I like reading because it is a peek into someone's inner life and inner monologue. Whether books want to or not, they are teaching us something about the author's view of what it means to be a woman or person or be in love or be alive. The books that are popular are a commentary on what we value as a society.

Review of All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill

All Our Yesterdays - Cristin Terrill

This review can also be read (with pictures!) on Mad But Magic YA Blog

All Our Yesterdays is an exciting, page-turning inaugural novel by Cristin Terrill. We switch perspectives between Marina, a pettish, snobby teenager, and the older version of herself, Em, who travels back in time to save the world- and herself- from the dangers and misuse of time travel. Sounds like a paradox, right?Each time she makes the journey with her cell neighbor and friend, Finn, she tries a different method of stopping the future and leaves instructions for the next version of herself.

In previous reviews I have expressed my frustration with time travel novels, but Terrill skirted many of my common complaints and either explained away inconsistencies satisfactorily, or provided such a rich sub-plot that I wasn't concerned with how she chose to make time travel work. The only time I felt myself really perplexed was at the end when some actions held, and some were reversed (SPOILER: when James's suicide remained true, but Finn's murder and Marina's memory of that day were erased). I guess we can chalk that up to Terrill's earlier explanation that time tries to correct itself?

All Our Yesterdays had a lot going for it: solid dialogue, strong, self-aware female character, gradual and realistic romance, reasonable character evolution, insightful flashbacks. I was quickly sucked into Terrill's world and wanted to read it again immediately after finishing the final page. And yes, I checked to see if there was any fanfiction written on it yet (there's not. *sad face* Friends, you all need to join this fandom and write me some good fanfics).

While there is a lot to enjoy in this packed novel, I knew it was love when Finn took James and Marina (and us!) home for the first time. This is not a lengthy scene, but what we learn about Finn and his family life moved me and resonated with me on a personal level. Finn's nervous about sharing his home life with his friends and at first glance, it's because of his family's relative poverty compared to the lifestyles of James and Marina. When we hear his mother's voice for the first time, calling to Finn to help her in the other room, I felt like I was hearing an echo from my own life. We come to learn that his mother has Multiple Sclerosis.

I have been waiting for a character like Finn Abbott for a long time. I was very pleased to see a parent with a mental illness represented in Fangirl, and I've been waiting for an author to tackle the circumstance of having a parent with a physical illness. These family dynamics are underrepresented in YA fiction, despite knowing a lot of people in my life who have been affected by a parent with an illness. I have seen so much of Finn reflected in my friends and in myself and Terrill really grasped the personality nuances that come with growing up with a sick parent. I was very impressed.

If you're looking for a well-rounded, action-packed novel that understands complicated friendships, family dynamics and character evolution, look no further! All Our Yesterdays has it all!