Reversing Time: One Boy’s Quest to Change History by Charlotte R. Mendel

Author Charlotte Mendel was born in Nova Scotia and she is the author of the award-winning Turn Us Again (Roseway/Fernwood, 2013). Her second novel, A Hero (Inanna Publications, 2015) was shortlisted for the 2016 William Saroyan International Prize for Writing and was a Finalist in the 2016 International Book Awards in the General Fiction category.

Ms. Mendel’s newest book is quite different from A Hero, a work of literary fiction that was reviewed here at TMR over six years ago. Reversing Time is a utopian novel, which in this pandemic age, is most welcome. As a fantasy YA (young adult) book, it will appeal to the mature young reader and adults alike, provided you have a good imagination for the time-travelling that is at the core of the novel.

Reversing Time is about a young boy, Simon Scendel, who lives with his father, John and his mother Alley. His father is a capitalist, working for a fossil-fuel company, and his environmentally-conscious mother Alley is currently not working but appears to be undergoing a deep depression, barely doing the basics and writing constantly in a journal.

One day, Simon makes an unexpected discovery in the basement of his father’s workshop: a strange pendant with a detailed engraving of a tree with a few birds in and around it.

Finally, the bottom of the chest came into view; nestled in one corner was some sort of pendant, its chain twisted around itself. Simon picked it up carefully and examined it. The pendant was round and heavy, about the size of a large sand dollar. Smooth on one side, with some type of intricate pattern on the other, it looked like it was made of silver. It was beautiful. Simon held it up towards the meagre light coming through the window. The pattern appeared to be an apple tree in full blossom, its branches twisting in every direction. 
Simon peered at it, marvelling at the detail. Whatever light was coming through the window seemed to shine directly on the face of the pendant; it almost seemed to glow. Simon could see the veins on each leaf. There was a bird's nest snuggling on one branch and ... was that a beak wide open, striving upwards in expectation of food? Simon searched for the parents, surely on their way to satisfy this mute appeal. There the mother was! Gliding through the apple blossoms with a worm dangling from her beak. Such a wonderful tree, what artistry to create such perfect, tiny detail!

When he shows it to his mother, she flies into an inexplicable rage and demands that Simon give it to her. Simon’s father forbids her to have it and this makes her even more violent. Why is his mother so determined to get the pendant, Simon wonders. His mother tells him to never let his father have it, under any circumstances. This confuses Simon, as his loyalties are now divided. Against his father’s wishes, Simon wears the pendant continuously.

As you may have guessed, it is this pendant (which belongs to Alley, but John has taken and hidden from her) that will allow one to travel through time but only on their own timeline, which is a different twist on the time-travel trope. The talisman (and Simon’s mother) come from a utopian society here on earth but is ‘invisible’ to those without the talisman.

Without giving away too much of the story, Simon learns, via time travel, that in a few years he is to become a kind of Greta Thunberg, speaking out publicly about climate change and the environment, spurring on big changes.

With “Reversing Time”, I wanted to create a fantasy/time travel/mystery that readers would enjoy and at the same time—through the hero’s journey from a bullied, frightened boy to a Ghandi-like hero—realize the opportunities for personal action in the battle against climate change. As Dr. Goodall says, “Never lose hope. For if we lose hope, we fall into apathy and do nothing”. I hope “Reversing Time” will give hope to people, by showing that what we do matters.

Charlotte R. Mendel

While fantasy, time-travel novels are not my preferred genre, Reversing Time had some neat twists (such as the travel restriction noted previously) and one’s being able to interact with one’s future self to a limited degree. However, as with most fantasy novels, one needs good imagination to gloss over the gaps in the story, such as how the talismans are created and how they are imbued with special powers. Nevertheless, Reversing Time is some good escapist reading with a pertinent message for today.

Charlotte Mendel was born in Nova Scotia and spent three years travelling around the world, working in France, England, Turkey, Israel and India. She is the author of Turn Us Again (Roseway/Fernwood, 2013), which won the H.R. Percy Novel Prize, the Beacon Award for Social Justice, and the Atlantic Book Award in the Margaret and John Savage First Book category. Her second novel, A Hero (Inanna Publications, 2015) was shortlisted for the 2016 William Saroyan International Prize for Writing, and was a Finalist in the 2016 International Book Awards in the General Fiction category. Charlotte currently lives in Enfield, NS. “Reversing Time” is her first YA book.

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ MiroLand (Dec 1 2021)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 290 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1771836059
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1771836050