If ever there was a page-turner...This is an intriguing story of a girl who believes she lives in the 1840s, only to find out that adults have been fooling her and her siblings all their life. But there's more. Her family and friends are now in grave danger. Circumstances put the responsibility on Jessie — can she save them in time?
Jessie Keyser, 13, along with a few dozen other families, live in a reconstructed village viewed by hidden modern tourists and used as an experimental site by ill-intentioned scientists. Jessie's sister and some school friends have fallen ill with a strange disease (diptheria) that has no cure in the 1840s.
Jessie discovers the truth about her world when her mother, out of pure desperation, asks her daughter to escape the village and seek medical help. While on the run, Jessie must cope with the jolt to her self-definition (she was an 1840s child living in a 1990s world), and her unfamiliarity with modern technology (Cars? Telephones? Restrooms?). All the while, scraps of information about home scare her -- her sister and friends are growing worse.
Haddix is a master at lightening-speed action, threaded with suspense, and leaving questions hanging until the very last page. How Jessie succeeds is not entirely happy, yet the resolution makes the story all the more realistic, quite a feat considering the outlandishness of the concept. One doesn't have to be a strong middle reader to see this book through to the end. Like the book? See A. 's review of Haddix's new young adult book, Double Identity.
Review by D.