Until We Meet Again

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Time travel is a popular genre that dates back to literature from almost 200 years ago. Hundreds of mediums use it as a plot device, from H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine to the popular film Back to the Future. Renee Collins’ novel Until We Meet Again uses the element of time travel, but in a unique way.

Cassandra is a rebellious teenager who is dreading spending the summer on the Massachusetts shore with her family. Though they rent a historic old estate, Cassandra is more interested in taking risks with some of the local troublemakers. Then one night, out on the estate’s private beach, she meets an intriguing stranger, Lawrence. Through multiple meetings, the two soon discover they are living in different years, him in 1925, her in 2015, and can somehow see each other only on the beach. Their friendship soon develops into love, but living in different times makes their relationship complicated. Through her research, Cassandra soon learns the awful truth about Lawrence’s fate, and is determined to do something about it.

The story is written in first person and alternate perspectives, with Cassandra and Lawrence each narrating certain chapters. This added some historic depth, as you can see the contrast in how people spoke, acted and dressed in the different eras. Cassandra considers Lawrence’s time to be “simpler” than hers, anticipating how much will go on throughout the rest of the twentieth century.

The interesting part about this novel is how it seems to fall under multiple genres. While the plot definitely has romance, there’s some science fiction with the time travel aspect. The 1920s scenes also adds history to the mix, with references to speakeasys, flappers and more. I admire Collins for doing the research on the lifestyle and being able to write dialogue consistent with that time period.

I would definitely recommend this novel for anyone who enjoys a summer love story with some sci-fi and history mixed in.

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The Hopefuls

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Washington, D.C. has been the center of media attention since the beginning of this year. It makes sense, since we are in the first year of a new administration and all the newness provides countless stories for the press. The fact that I currently live here too gives me a front row view of what is going on. But there’s another side to D.C., one that has to do with the people and the culture. This is one of the plot points of Jennifer Close’s novel The Hopefuls.

Beth and Matt Kelly have recently moved to Washington, D.C. from New York City due to Matt getting a new job. While Matt settles into his new workplace, Beth, unemployed and stir crazy, struggles to adjust to life in a new city and to make new friends. Things get interesting when they meet Jimmy and Ashleigh Dillon, Texas natives who offer a new perspective on what moving to a new place has to offer. When Jimmy decides to move back to Texas and run for public office, they invite the Kellys to manage their campaign and live in Texas for the year. Though Beth and Matt are looking forward to an adventure, they soon find out that campaigning is not as easy as it seems.

I could relate to Beth on many levels. The adjustment to living in D.C. is a definite one. I never lived in New York, but it took some time to get used to all the people, navigating the streets and the grocery stores. The unemployed factor: I at one point did not work for over two months, and while it was nice at first, not having a job made focusing and maintaining and identity difficult.

Close did a great job of capturing the city’s essence, from people knowing each other’s connections to the nicknames of the Safeways. However, I felt like the setting was what made most of the story. There was no real plot, and the pages were mostly filled with descriptions of Beth’s experiences: what people were doing, where they were going, and so on. ┬áThere was some insight as to the stress and mental toll a campaign can have on those involved and some character development, but no major climax or anything like that. I found myself skipping ahead a couple of times just to see what would happen.

I recommend this novel for those who enjoy a perspective of D.C., but be prepared for a story that doesn’t have much substance other than that.