Pub. Date: May 8, 2018
Source: e-ARC via netgalley (Thank you, Amberjack Publishing!)
Summary: Josie and Alec both live at 444 Sparrow Street. They sleep in the same room, but they’ve never laid eyes on each other. They are twelve years old but a hundred years apart.
The children meet through a handpainted spirit board—Josie in 1915, Alec in 2015—and form a friendship across the century that separates them. But a chain of events leave Josie and her little sister Cass trapped in the house and afraid for their safety, and Alec must find out what’s going to happen to them. Can he help them change their future when it’s already past?
Genre: Historical Fiction, Fantasy
444 Sparrow Street is home to three children: Josie, her little sister Cass, and Alec. Only, Alec moves into the house 100 years after the sisters. In an attempt to make friends, Alec invites a few boys over to play with a recently discovered spirit board…and actually manages to make contact with the girls (who, funnily enough, believe him to be the spirit).
Told in a past/present narrative, The Boy From Tomorrow explores the friendship that sparks between Josie and Alec. I’ll admit I went into this one expecting a lighthearted, fun fantasy-esque tale about two 12-year-olds who connect through time – and was completely caught off guard. Sweet, yes. Fun, yes. But there are also some seriously heavy topics explored within these pages that I was not prepared for! The girls’ mother is a famous (or, rather, infamous) psychic. Just as many people write her off as crazy and a con artist as though who pay a pretty penny for one last conversation with a loved one. Once the clients have gone home, however, their mother lashes out physically and doles out horrific punishments. At one point 6-year-old Cass is locked inside a dark closet for an entire day. In other scene she’s forced to eat a dessert meant for an 8-person dinner party (and then proceeds to be in deeper trouble after she’s sick). Listening to their stories, Alec actually researches abuse laws from that time and helps the girls concoct a plan to get away.
Death, naturally, is also a prominent theme. There’s a small cemetery in town that’s no longer being used by 2015 (Alec’s present). A few headstones bear the Clifford name – could one of them belong to Josie or Cass? Alec is just one click away from uncovering the truth…but do they really want to know? This question comes up a lot in The Boy From Tomorrow and I really enjoyed seeing how maturely these children handled it! Of course there’s that instinctual curiosity, but there’s also a very real, underlying fear: what if the headstone does belong to one of the girls? Do they really want to know when they died? How they died? Would knowing the circumstances alter their lives and somehow change their future?
I don’t have much to say on the minor characters, but there are several and they were all wonderful. Especially Mrs. Gubbins.
Toward the end of the novel there’s a time skip and suddenly the girls are teens, the adults with children of their own. Despite the years, they never forgot their friend Alec – while he himself was still decades from being born. While I delighted in learning what became of Josie and Cass, I preferred seeing them as children and watching their interactions with Alec play out.
Going into The Boy From Tomorrow, I expected a cute, lighthearted romp through time. What I got was so much more. Heavy topics like abuse and death frequent these pages, providing a balance to the wonder and whimsy of the magical/fantastical elements. Getting to know Josie, Cass, and Alec – and then watching all three grow up – made the ending all the more bittersweet. I’m positive this book will find just as many adult readers as it will children, and I’m so glad I read it. It wasn’t until I had finished the book that I realized I had come across Camille DeAngelis before: she’s the author of Bones & All, a 2015 novel I had been curious about. I also hadn’t known she wrote a few adult novels! That said, it seems The Boy From Tomorrow is already her highest-rated and I’ll be curious to see if she sticks with Middle Grade for her next novel. If it’s anything like this one, I have a feeling I’ll be reading it!