Game Changer (2021) | Neal Shusterman
Summary: With every rough tackle on the football field, high schooler Ash is bounced from one dimension to the next–in one place he lives in a gated community instead of tract housing and in another segregation continues to exist–forcing him to consider different perspectives while finding a way to save the universe from complete annihilation.
Recommendation: What’s your role in this universe? Ash finds out over a confusing series of dimensional jumps that take him to the same place and time, but very different existences. Of course, as details change (and then BIGGER details change more), his role becomes more hazardous to play. Ash is granted an incredible look into what makes him unique and his relationships with others special. He learns a great deal about himself and the world he thought he was living in, enough to make him determined to change some things if he finds home.
Oona Out of Order (2020) | Margarita Montimore
Summary: Oona Lockhart wakes up on her birthday to a random year in her life and struggles through an out-of-order existence to reconcile her inner youth with the realities of shifting external identities, appearances and period norms.
Recommendation: I’d refer to this work as magical realism before I said she was time travelling exactly. When you live one year at a time of your life out of order, how do you plan accordingly? The relationships Oona develops are the fascinating outcome of intense emotion and single-position point of view. She can’t help but read things from her perspective, especially as she flits without control to another age of her life and knows she will be stuck there for the coming year. It made me consider my possible reactions if faced with the same dilemma. How would you react?
Kindred (1979) | Octavia Butler
Summary: Dana, a modern black woman, is celebrating her twenty-sixth birthday with her new husband when she is snatched abruptly from her home in California and transported to the antebellum South. Rufus, the white son of a plantation owner, is drowning, and Dana has been summoned to save him. Dana is drawn back repeatedly through time to the slave quarters, and each time the stay grows longer, more arduous, and more dangerous until it is uncertain whether or not Dana’s life will end, long before it has a chance to begin.
Recommendation: If you are thinking that the Janelle Monae movie Antebellum (which I highly recommend as well) is based off this work, you’re wrong. The summaries might sound alike in a few details, but the why and how are totally different. Butler makes a heroic attempt to explain that this particular woman (Dana) is repeatedly called back to a slave owner’s lifetime in order to keep him alive long enough to produce Dana’s ancestor. As she cannot tell what will happen to her universe should she fail, Dana’s motives might appear self-serving. But she recognizes that she’s in no position to correct the circumstances of other people either in the past (early 1800s) or the present (1970s) should she allow or cause Rufus to die before a certain child exists. What she faces is terrifying and dehumanizing, but she girds herself with resolve and dignity, outlasting the nightmare.