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The Plot: 2063. Freya Kallas is sixteen, locked in her room, while something terrible happens with her brother. She struggles as she is forcibly evacuated, crying out for her brother, hating her father, wishing for her mother to do something. The Toxo is spreading, she overhears, as a needle slides into her arm.
1985. Freya Kallas is sixteen, starting a new school, mourning the death of her diplomat father in an explosion, adjusting to life in Canada after a life spent travelling from country to country.
Freya feels different from the students around her. Her mother says it’s recovering from the flu; her mother says it’s grief. So Freya spends time with her younger sister, mother, and grandfather, trying to make friends. Then she sees him. Garren. She knows she knows him, even though she doesn’t know how, even though he has no idea who she is.
Freya pushes for answers. The more she pushes, the more dangerous it gets, and suddenly she and Garren are on the run and the stakes are bigger than either dreamed.
The Good: OK, first things first. A sixteen year old named Freya in 2063; a sixteen year old named Freya in 1985. Strange dreams, flashes, and a tag line on the author’s website that says “what do you do when your only future is in the past?” It’s time travel, baby!
What I won’t tell you: why Freya is now in 1985. Why she didn’t remember 2063. Who is after her, and Garren, once they begin to realize something is off about their present. I also won’t tell you what 2063 is like. Or what happens to Freya’s brother….
OH SHUT UP AND JUST TELL ME SOMETHING, LIZ.
This is time travel the way I like it, no, love it. It makes sense. A scientific explanation is provided. And the reason for it, for the time travel, also makes sense.
There are bad guys; in the first chapter we feel Freya’s anger at her father and as the story progresses, we find reasons to dislike future Freya’s parents. In the present, bad guys are chasing Freya and Garren and it becomes a life and death situation. But . . . . but it’s not that easy. Or simple. It’s not black and white. Instead they are flawed people, doing the best under the circumstances with what they know and believe at the moment. How far is someone willing to go to fix something broken, to save something lost? By the end of Yesterday, I was surprised at the people I ended up respecting because of the choices they’d made.
Freya is wonderful: so determined, no matter what, to obtain the truth. She won’t let feelings get in her way. She’s smart, she’s bright, she’s clever.
The details! I am such a fan of details in books like this. I am the reader asking, what about clothes, what about money, where do they sleep, what about brushing your teeth? Yesterday provides all those answers.
While I was older than Freya in 1985, oh the details! The movies, the TV shows, the music, the clothes — I loved falling back into that time and just wanted to listen to all the 80s music mentioned.
The ending is — well, perfect. One of the best final lines in a book, ever. Fingers crossed, there will be a sequel.
Filed under: Reviews
About Elizabeth Burns
Looking for a place to talk about young adult books? Pull up a chair, have a cup of tea, and let's chat. I am a New Jersey librarian. My opinions do not reflect those of my employer, SLJ, YALSA, or anyone else. On Twitter I'm @LizB; my email is email@example.com.
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