Wednesday, December 7, 2011

A Glimpse into Her Future

A Year Without Autumn
Have you ever wondered what you were do if given the opportunity to view a glimpse of your future? How far would you go? How long would you stay? Liz Kessler's novel A Year Without Autumn shows the life of a girl as she skips through her future.

Jenni's family goes to the condo for one week out of every summer. The best thing about the family trip, besides the fact that she loves her family, is that her best friend Autumn's family comes too. Jenni and Autumn are the kind of friends who can barely go 2 hours without seeing each other or talking to each other, so being on vacation together is a must. But this summer is different. Jenni is supposed to go horseback riding with Autumn, but when she decides to take the old elevator in Autumn's building, something crazy happens- she is transported a year in the future.

In that year, she missed a lot. While she tries to figure out what happened, she realizes something horrible happened to Autumn's family that day they were supposed to go horseback riding. When Jenni didn't show up for riding, Autumn's little brother Mikey went. The horse was spooked on the ride and Mikey was thrown, but the ambulance took over two hours to get to him. Mikey slipped into a coma and never came out. Now everything has changed. Autumn's lively, vibrant family has fallen apart. Even Jenni's own family has been rocked by the accident to the point of being totally unrecognizable. Jenni knows the only way to fix things is to go back in time and stop the accident, but first she must go forward. But how far forward can she stand to go? And if she goes forward, is there a chance she can never go back?

This was a heartwarming story about a little girl who just loved her family and friend so much, she knew she needed to help them. In fact, the friendship between Jenni and Autumn made me nostalgic for those friendships we had when we were kids. Remember those? Where you talk on the phone for hours every night even though you saw each other all day in school? Those friendships defined us as adults too, helping us to open up and love our friends unconditionally and whole-heartedly. Kessler really knew how to tug the heart strings with their friendship. Also, the idea that one event, Mikey's accident, could ripple through everyone's lives is both scary and very realistic. Who wouldn't be affected by the loss of such a young little boy? 

This is a great story for middle readers through young adults. The story is very clean and will appeal to a wide range of ages due to the serious nature of the plot. It can be the food of much discussion with a student about how events connect to one another and whether or not we should know what happens in our future. For young people who have a very hard time seeing past their own immediate lives, it might be nice to take some real-life situation and see how the ripples of that event have influenced everything around it. Getting children to think outside their immediate lives is a difficult but worthwhile venture. 

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