In 2016, we meet Amy Snowberger, on the day before her birthday, as she is being held at knifepoint by her older sister, Leah, who is an addict. Escaping from her sister, she meets her best friend, Casssie, and they head to the home of her mother, who is living alone after the death of Amy’s father many years ago.
She wakes up on the morning of her birthday to find that while she has her mind and memories of her adult self in 2016, she is in the body of herself at age 13. What’s more, her father is very much alive. At first, she thinks it might be a dream, but when the dream shows no signs of ending, she panics and tries to run away from home, hoping the shock will end the dream and bring her back to 2016. Instead she finds herself in a questionable part of town where she encounters Claude Belissan, a man who might know more about her strange predicament than he is willing to admit.
Meanwhile, there are other challenges. Upset with her for running away, Mum threatens to send her to rehab camp.
Amy has the benefit of future knowledge regarding some of her classmates, but that doesn’t make middle school any less of a challenge. Eager to learn more and to find a way back to her real time, Amy’s investigation leads her to a man named Sebastian Spars whose grandiose dreams of being able to forge alternate realities were nurtured by his daughter Beatrice, who went on to run her own cult. And one of Amy’s close family members was a prominent member of that cult.
Eventually the cult loses steam, as Beatrice warns, We must not turn our eyes away from the stars to gaze adoringly at streetlights.
The story is presented in the first person present tense PoV of Amy, in 2003 and 2016.
There is a lot of psychaedelia, hippie culture, cultism and time travel, which is confusing for a while. The story is so complicated that I can’t say anything without giving away spoilers. All I can say is that like Amy, we struggle, sharing her confusion, as we try to figure out what glitch has caused her to return to 2003 and why the year itself is markedly different from the 2003 of her past, in which her father died as a result of unhealthy eating.
The chapters are named oddly, so there is no correlation between them, or so it seems. Ultimately, there was a resolution, just not the kind I had been hoping for. But the disappointment was offset by these words:
Tempus edax rerum - time, devourer of all things. Every blade of grass will die, replaced or not replaced by another... And then what? Soon this planet will be void of life, spinning through empty space, without a soul to disturb its mountains, winds, and empty waters.
Only that isn't it -- not really. There is another force, above or outside of time, creating and recreating all things seen and unseen. An eternal negation of temporal decay... It's in the roses planted on a grave, the bees that feed from those roses, the honey and the honeycomb. It's in every creature's will to live and to make life.