Andre Cobb’s life has not been the same since he got his liver transplant, not only is he back in school but he’s also somehow ended up back in 1969… long before he was even born.
Trigger Warning: Homophobia and Minor Racism.
I give this book 4.5 stars (out of five). I really liked this book, the premise, the main characters and surprisingly even the love triangle. I think it is extremely impressive when a book can take an overused trope like the love triangle and put a spin on it that makes sense within the context of the story and is also interesting and original.
This story follows Andre, after a battle with cancer he finally gets the liver transplant that saved his life and he’s ready to get his life back on track to become a doctor. Until he accidentally travels back to the late 1960’s and meets the boy who lived in Andre’s house in the present day. Understandably, Andre is very confused at first and so is Micheal.
Andre eventually comes to learn that the man who donated him the liver came from a family of people who can time travel, and due to the liver transplant Andre also has this power now. Their youngest son Blake, the hot headed jock, is tasked with teaching Andre the rules of traveling and helps him learn how to use his powers without destroying time and space.
Micheal is Andre’s tethered, which means that it’s the easiest for him to travel to wherever Micheal is in that time, so when Andre was first learning to travel he would always end up with Micheal. Time passes at different speeds in the past and present which makes visiting and maintaining a relationship impossible, but Micheal and Andre still just want to be able to see each other.
While Andre keeps visiting Micheal in the past, things between him and Blake start changing too and he’s torn between them. Realistically Andre knows he can’t be with Micheal, but that doesn’t change how he feels.
[Spoiler Warning, stop reading this review to avoid them.]
In the end after breaking multiple of the rules of time travel (there’s only three, he’s just bad at following instructions) Andre ends up experiencing lots of pain when he tries to travel. They later realize because he was using his power too much his body rejected the new liver, this means that he is likely going to die if he keeps traveling.
It’s hard for him to accept but he goes back to visit Micheal one last time and explain what’s going on, before going back to the present and living his life with Blake. Andre and Micheal both get closure in living their lives apart but still remembering and loving each other from their different points in time.
I just really liked this story, I think it had very interesting mechanics and this is one of the rare cases where I think the love triangle aspect actually added to the story instead of taking away from it. I also really liked that it centers around LGBTQ+ characters and showcases how even if we have more freedom now, not long ago that wasn’t the same. And the main character is black and the dialogue often shows how that affects his life and experiences.
I was really happy with Andre’s decision to not pursue the medical field because that’s what his parents wanted him to do and not what he truly wanted, and instead possibly studying the science behind time travel which is a perfect career for his character and something he’s always shown interest in. This is a big theme throughout the book and it kind of plays into the larger aspect of self-discovery as well.
The following paragraphs are some moments from the book that stood out to me while reading:
When Andre time travels for the first time and meets Micheal he asks what year it is but he says, “Two thousand twenty-one?” And I just feel compelled to point out that no one has ever said that everyone says, “Twenty twenty-one.” This is a small detail but no one would ever say that.
I liked that when Andre and his friend Isobel after visiting the family for the first time he comes to the conclusion that even if they’re crazy people trying to kill him, he’s probably screwed anyway so he might as well meet them.
When given the opportunity to ask questions about Blake’s family and time travel instead of asking anything logical he asks if his father’s hair is naturally brown or if he dyes it, it was such a random question it was borderline comedic.
I need to comment on Andre’s sense of humour and just general sarcasm because he is so funny and honestly an inspiration when it comes to being sarcastic and borderline rude to people he doesn’t like.
When Andre was talking with Micheal he noted the differences in their levels of freedom, representation and even acknowledged that he is privileged and lucky even in his own time, because there’s still people today who have to deal with extreme homophobia, transphobia and/or queerphobia or where it’s still illegal. And in return Micheal acknowledged the racial challenges Andre faces no matter what time it is, in addition to being gay.
Between Blake and Andre they kind of have an enemies to lovers arc, because they start out by arguing and bickering in every interaction. Early on in their relationship Andre tells Blake not to call him ‘Dre’ because that’s only what his friends call him and Blake was only teaching him, but later on he corrects him and lets him call him ‘Dre.’ Thus showing how much they’ve gotten closer and how Andre’s opinions and relationship with him changed.
I think it shows a lot about Blake and his relationship with Andre that he was willing to comfort Andre after his forced breakup with Micheal. He wasn’t outwardly jealous, he was just supportive when Andre needed him and I think that’s really important, especially compared to how he acted when he first found out about Micheal.
In the end Blake’s mom gives Andre a graduation gift of a photo album of Micheal’s life after Andre’s last visit and even a meaningful letter from him, because Micheal noticed some random lady always appearing on important events and figured that she was another time traveler. This is super sweet and also the perfect ending.
Something I noticed about this book (at least in the version I read) there are some random blank pages in between chapters, which is a waste of paper and I always point out because it shouldn’t happen.
Overall I really liked this book, I think the premise is a little bit outlandish but that made me even more excited to read it. I love Andre and the ending showed his development and journey very well.