The Time Telephone by Connie Lacy is a charming coming of age story about loss, abandonment and acceptance. Megan McConnell, grieving over the death of her journalist mother, stumbles across a telephone that allows her to call the past in the farmhouse where her mother grew up. Determined to prevent her mother from dying in a bomb attack in Afghanistan, Megan tries to contact her mother multiple times in the past to convince her to stay away from the location of the blast.
Megan’s relationship with her mother was complex and the reader comes to realize that her mother mostly chose a life of adventure and career over motherhood, leaving Megan to be capably raised by her grandmother, Kate. Megan’s mother showed up regularly with gifts, but was little involved in her daughter’s life. Despite this, Megan is determined to find a way to bring her mother back, even at risk to her own life.
The Time Telephone is very well written. The prose is precise and heartfelt, with plenty of character development. All of the characters are unique and fresh. Megan’s grandmother is a superior court judge. Megan’s boyfriend, Kieran, is half Irish, half Indian and he’s younger than her. The mean girl turns out to be nice. There is a simplicity to the story that is compelling, and yet Megan’s struggle to come to terms with her mother’s death, and her feelings of abandonment are very real and are not downplayed in the text.
Although it involves a time telephone, the overall story is more magic realism than science fiction, and sets up some nice opportunities for the reader to see Megan’s mother at different stages of her life, thereby allowing us to understand her relationship with her daughter. Lacy does not tie up the story with a neat bow however, instead allowing for a slightly grittier but realer ending, and she is unflinching in her portrayal of Jody, Megan’s mother.
The intended audience for the story is a bit unclear. Megan is in grade eleven at school, but seems both older in some ways because she can drive and has a car, and younger in others with respect to her interactions with her new friends. Despite Megan’s age, The Time Telephone seems like it might be targeted at a younger audience given its length and subject matter.
The Time Telephone was a short and yet insightful read about love and loss that explores how one might go about changing the past given the opportunity and the need to come to terms with difficult truths about the people we love. It would be suitable for adults and young teens.
The Rating4.5 Stars (out of 5): Highly recommended. This book is a great read. It can hold its own against any traditionally published novel in its genre, and surpasses many.
The Pros & ConsPros: Dialogue, Emotional
Cons: Slow in Places