Rebecca Stead’s The List of Things That Will Not Change gets a “Space Oddity” sci-fi twist in this moving middle grade novel about one boy’s journey to go back in time to prevent his parents’ divorce.
The present is the last place James wants to be. Since his parents have separated, he’s been living two different lives and neither of them add up to the great one he used to have. He thinks about his Top Six memories and wonders if he can go back.
During National Science Week, James meets the enigmatic Yan, a girl who looks at the world with x-ray eyes, and discovers that time travel might be possible after all. The two budding scientists’ quest to restore James’s lost past brings them into contact with retro Australian Women’s Weekly birthday cakes, old Commodore computers, chaotic rideshare vehicles of the future, and spacemen.
But as they get closer to their goal, James is forced to consider that his favorite moments from his personal history may not be as perfect as he remembers them.
Shirley Marr is the author of Little Jiang, Fury, Preloved, A Glasshouse of Stars, All Four Quarters of the Moon, and Countdown to Yesterday. Shirley lives in Perth, Australia, with her family. Learn more at ShirleyMarr.net.
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (June 18, 2024)
Shirley Marr's latest novel, Countdown to Yesterday, takes young readers on a heartwarming journey through time, memories, and the complexities of family and friendship. This enchanting tale is a delightful blend of nostalgia, science fiction, and the enduring power of love. The story revolves around James, a young boy who longs to return to a simpler period when his parents were still together. This becomes possible when he encounters Yan, a girl with a unique perspective on the world; suddenly, James's entire world changes: he can time travel. Now he must decide if he would live forever in one of his six most cherished memories. As in another of her middle-grade novels, A Glasshouse of Stars (2021), Marr's storytelling here is nothing short of remarkable as she weaves a narrative that effortlessly highlights elements of retro Australian culture, including iconic references such as The Australian Women's Weekly Children's Birthday Cake Book. Marr's ability to capture the essence of her characters and the complexities of their experiences shines, and with a twist that delivers an emotional impact that lingers long after the final page, this novel explores the depths of human emotions in a touching and thought-provoking way. Countdown to Yesterday is a timeless addition to the world of middle-grade fiction and is bound to leave a lasting impression on readers aged 9 and older, and those who enjoyed Kelly Barnhill's The Girl Who Drank the Moon.