“ Baskin makes the time travel seem believable and leaves readers hopeful by relaying an ending that fits with the theme, “Know how to live in the time that is given you.” The novel calls attention to the lost art of graffiti on New York subways, which inspired parts of the story. Language and an off-the-page sexual encounter make this a better choice for older teens. Readers will be intrigued and enjoy this romance that could be found in The Twilight Zone.”
Baskin (Surfacing) embraces magical realism in this evocative story, which blends time travel with the notion of soul mates destined to connect. …. the novel captures the essence of the times in which both teens live and expresses the teens’ dissatisfaction with their situations. While Baskin keeps certain things ambiguous, such as the nature of the time travel, the book’s themes remain clear. The teens’ love for each other is eternal, providing figurative and literal escape from less-than-perfect homes.
Laura and Jonas are beshert, or fated soul mates. At 14, Laura lives in Woodstock, New York, with her hippie mom, her stoner brother, and her mother’s violently abusive boyfriend, and she visits her father in Manhattan every couple of weeks. Jonas, 16, lives in New York City and is also the child of divorced parents, although he is still angry at his father for deserting his mom and avoids seeing him as much as possible. Laura and Jonas first become aware of each other as the subway passes through a station—he is riding in a train car and she is waiting on the platform. But this is no simple love story: Laura is living in 1973 and Jonas lives in the present. Baskin (Runt, 2013) methodically and tautly unwinds their time- transcending romance, touching on their shared interest in art and Laura’s growing confidence, which allows her to leave her abusive home. Artfully depicting the transformation of New York City through photography and street art, Baskin interweaves a powerful narrative of change into an already powerful love story. — Francisca Goldsmith
Baskin’s gentle story focuses on the Hebrew myth of the beshert, the soul mate, two people linked together outside time and space. There are the requisite comical misunderstandings, such as Laura having no clue what Jonas is talking about when he suggests meeting up at Starbucks or that she look him up on Facebook. Jonas does his own research—in the microfiche collection in the basement of the library—trying to see what has become of Laura now. Laura should be a stronger character, but it makes sense that we do not see as much of her, given the emphasis on Jonas and a contemporary perspective. The book’s true romantic triumph comes when Jonas tells Laura, “I don’t matter and we don’t even matter. You matter to me and you have to matter to yourself.” Take that, Twilight.—Matthew Weaver.