Saturday, June 4, 2011

Review: Now and Then

Now & Then by Jacqueline Sheehan tells the story of Anna and her nephew, Joseph. Starting in present time, Anna has just returned from a trip to Ireland to find her brother has been in a life threatening accident and her nephew is in police custody for stealing a car. After checking in at the hospital, Anna is sent to retrieve Joseph. Joseph spends the night at his Aunt Anna's house and, propelled by a dream he has, he rifles through Anna's yet to be unpacked suitcase. Anna catches up and something spirals them back in time to Ireland 1884. They are separated, each taken in by different families, and left to try to piece together what happened to them.

Jaqueline Sheehan

While I did enjoy the writing of this novel, for the majority of the time I spent reading it, I felt the presence of the wholes in the story and found myself longing for answers to open ended questions. It's not until the end up of the novel do you find out just what happened to Anna and Joseph that capitulated back in time. It makes sense that that scene is placed where it is, but it also causes confusion throughout because it was difficult to fully accept that the pair somehow magically just time traveled back to the 19th century. I had a hard time suspending my belief to completely accept the story line.

That said, I did enjoy the characters in this novel. They are interesting and have a depth that brings them off the page. Anna is a strong woman and although her world is turned upside down, she works hard to make sense of what's happening to her. It's touching how worried about her nephew she is and that she makes it her main priority to find him after they've been separated. Joseph is a fascinating character because he comes of age in many ways throughout his (unexplained) time in 1884 Ireland. He's taken under the wing of a wealthy English man who makes Joseph into an unbeatable wrestler. Joseph relishes in his success and also finds love. He's torn between wanting to please his new master and wanting to be with the girl he loves. It's touching to see him deal with these struggles throughout the novel.

Now & Then is an entertaining read, especially if you've read other novels by Jacqueline Sheehan. Her writing style stays consistent but I felt unsatisfied throughout my reading until the very end when every single question is left to be answered.

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