“The six of us stood before the mansion, dazed by what we had stumbled on, out of breath after chasing each other around the dark, tangled forest.”
Sonnet McKay, home on vacation from life abroad, finds herself in the woods with her family and friends. After an afternoon of exploring, they stumble on an abandoned mansion overlooking a ghost town long forgotten.
Emma Sweetwine is a teenage girl trapped in a life Sonnet would be horrified to live. In 1895, Emma doesn’t have the same options that Sonnet does. Yet, the two girls have more in common than either would believe.
Fate puts them in the same house at the same time, separated by 120 years. Two girls identical in more than just looks fall into a closet at the same moment. Except when they come out, things are drastically changed. Lives switched, they have to figure out how they were switched to begin with. And more importantly, how to get back to their own time. As they navigate their new realities, they both face temptation to never switch back at all.
“It would be hard to go back to her old life. She felt uneasy and torn. She was being wrenched in both directions by nobody other than herself.”
But Not Forever was a cute, fast read. Even though there is an element of time travel in the plot, this book is more contemporary than science fiction, as the focus of the plot is very much self-discovery and self-growth. This makes But Not Forever a sweet coming of age story, since both girls have to look inside themselves in order to move forward and get back to their own time.
Even though the main characters are sixteen, this book reads for a younger YA audience. There is a lack of conflict that I think a more mature audience demands. For example, no one on either side questions the girls when they claim to be from another time. I think this makes it feel too easy, too unrealistic. If they had to blend into the time more on their own, or faced suspicious reactions, it would have driven a deeper and more meaningful plot line. This simplicity doesn’t necessarily take away from the story, but it does give it a younger feel.
I liked how the details of living in 1895 and 2015 were presented through the girls experiences. That really highlighted how much things have changed without going into bulky narratives. And how difficult it would be to be flung into a different time period. Again, this made it feel more contemporary even though one perspective is in the past.
“The notion of free will electrified her, streaming through her body like the power systems generating modern light and machinery.”
If you’re looking for a light, fun read, But Not Forever is a sweet summer novel. It’s perfect to enjoy with a preteen in your life.
Thank you BookSparks for sending me a review copy for the #yasummerreads #readbythesea2018 blog tour.