Published: January 1st, 1997 (Originally published July 1st, 1995)
Both Sides of Time (Time Travelers # 1)
By: Caroline B. Cooney
Imagine changing centuries--and making things worse, not better, on both sides of time.
Imagine being involved in two love triangles in two different centuries. What if, no matter which direction you travel in time, you must abandon someone you love?
Meet 15-year-old Annie Lockwood, a romantic living in the wrong century. When she travels back a hundred years and lands in 1895--a time when privileged young ladies wear magnificent gowns, attend elegant parties, and are courted by handsome gentlemen--Annie at last finds romance. But she is a trespasser in time. Will she choose to stay in the past? Will she be allowed to?
Annie Lockwood has always been a hopeless romantic. But she is stuck in the twentieth century, with a seriously cute boyfriend, Sean, who calls her by her initials, spends all his time working on cars and doesn't have a single romantic bone in his entire body. When the town decides to tear down the crumbling Stratton mansion, Annie rides out there on her bike the day summer vacation begins to visit Sean and help him pack up all his tools before the demolition - she never expects to fall back in time! Now Annie is in a world of riches, parties, old-fashioned romance and a boy named Strat who just might be her true love. But they come from different worlds and Annie doesn't belong in 1895 and when she is accused of murder, the clock starts ticking. Can Annie find a way to get back home to her own family, which is falling apart at the seams? And does she even want to? I read this series for the first time when I was about 8 or 9 years old and LOVED it to pieces! I adored anything with time travel and the fact that it had romance was a bonus. I've re-read the series a couple times as a middle-schooler and again in high school (one of those times was for when book #4 in the series was released). I shouldn't have picked it up again as an adult. I remembered a fun read that was romance, murder mystery and time travel all rolled into one. What I got was overall bland characterizations (except for a few exceptions) and shoddily constructed plots - except for the murder, which was one that I never expected, although I'm sure others have guessed it before. I guess I'm just naïve like that! :) Annie is basically a placeholder character, who hates her life and wants adventure to come along and to have a romantic guy sweep her off her feet. But she is content enough to stay with Sean and be bored until time takes the decision from her. Strat is a product of his time period, wanting to save the women from themselves and not being able to see past outer appearance in favor of his plainer best friend, Harriet, who is in love with him. His sister Devonny is young and not a very prominent character, but I did love her excitement over new technology and inventions, along with her determination to be a modern woman. She was a great role model for younger girls reading this book and the ones after it. Harriet's only purpose seems to be as the requisite plain, orphaned, rich girl who never gets the guy. She was devoid mostly of personality and really the only emotion we ever see on her part is some form of jealousy for Annie (either her looks, personality, etc. or her interactions/relationship with Strat).
The villains of this book were mostly cookie cutter and easy enough to understand once they were found out. The most common motive in this book for anything was money. But one villain in particular (who is carted off screaming and acting insane [in a believable way] at the end) stuck with me and was realistic enough to send chills up my spine. The constant emphasis of the author on class distinctions, especially the romance between the maid Bridget and the stable boy Jeb, was somewhat overdone and in your face. The same thing goes for the constant downtrodden state of the women in the novel. Although the ending and the part Florinda (Strat's ditzy Stepmother) has in catching the murderer was awesome. A lot of plot holes existed and we never really find out how or why Annie is suddenly traveling through time. And now that I'm older, the whole 'love at first sight' thing made me want to gag. Plus, would you really act so 20th century in the presence of people 100 years in the past? And go around announcing that you'd traveled through time, causally like they wouldn't lock you in a nuthouse for it??? Yeah, didn't think so! That said, even with some of the heavy-handedness, it's a fun read and sets up for the rest of the series nicely. I would recommend it more to kids around ages 10-18 though. Adults, be prepared to feel underwhelmed unless you're a fan of somewhat questionably done writing. Overall, won't be reading again but might give it to my niece someday.
VERDICT: 3/5 Stars (Some of this is based on old feelings. I'll always have a soft spot for this series!)
**No money or favors were exchanged for this review. This book is now available in stores, online, or maybe even at your local library.**