America is in the grip of a deadly flu. When Frank gets sick, his girlfriend Polly will do whatever it takes to save him. She agrees to a radical plan—time travel has been invented in the future to thwart the virus. If she signs up for a one-way-trip into the future to work as a bonded labourer, the company will pay for the life-saving treatment Frank needs. Polly promises to meet Frank again in Galveston, Texas, where she will arrive in twelve years.
But when Polly is re-routed an extra five years into the future, Frank is nowhere to be found. Alone in a changed and divided America, with no status and no money, Polly must navigate a new life and find a way to locate Frank, to discover if he is alive, and if their love has endured.
–Summary from Goodreads
Author: Thea Lim
Favourite quote: “No matter what happens, the past has permanence. The past is safe.”
As some of you may have seen from this post I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway. It comes out today, so I thought this would be a perfect time to do a small review!
I was initially intrigued by the really lovely cover of this book. I think it is just so beautiful and simple! I then read the synopsis and though time travel isn’t normally something that I am into in books, I was excited to read it!
So, I started reading this book on the bus and I found out quickly that this is probably not the best book to read in public, as I may start to awkwardly cry. As I learned this book follows a woman named Polly living in an epidemic stricken United States, where there is a pandemic flu that is crippling the nation and killing large swaths of people. We then learn that time travel to the future is possible, and that many people are signing up as workers in the future in order to pay for treatment for their loved ones. When Polly’s boyfriend Frank gets sick she becomes one of those desperate people willing to get lost in time.
The atmosphere of this book is incredibly well done. It is essentially set in a dystopia and I honestly could feel the anxiety and grey despair. It is one of those books that you sort of need to be aware of the mood you are in going into it. The first couple of pages described Polly’s sense of anxiety so well, and captured the feeling of confusion that might exist in this world so very well!
In addition to the well done atmosphere, I thought the exploration of time travel was really well done! I think normally there would be a lot of questions about the mechanics of the time travel in this world, but as we are following a women in the mist of an epidemic, we learn only as much information as she does. As a result what the reader ends up knowing about the time travel technology is from rumours, second hand knowledge and laced with conspiracy.
The romance between Polly and Frank is the through line of this story and it is both lovely and heartbreaking. We learn about their story slowly, in small increments in this book and it feels both relatable and warm. I was rather surprised about how realistic their arch seemed, and how much I began to enjoy them as a couple.
The pacing of this book was really compelling. There was a really good initial build up and though it slows a bit towards the middle it fits the narrative in a way that I think is effective, and drives the story forward.
My only real criticism of this book will be a bit vague because I don’t want to risk any spoilers. To be brief there is a particular subject that is used as a plot device which I found to be jarring and affected the pace in an odd way.
Overall, this book is a really different sort of love story. It Is one of those heartbreaking books that makes you question what you would be willing to do for someone you love, and forces you to reflect and to appreciate what you have in the moment. If you love reading love stories that feel heartbreakingly real, you should give this book a go!