Genna Colon desperately wants to escape from a drug-infested world of poverty, and every day she wishes for a different life. One day Genna’s wish is granted and she is instantly transported back to Civil War-era Brooklyn.
This book blew me away in the same way Kindred did. I wouldn’t be able to say which one I prefer because despite having the same premise, the whole story was so different but there were similarities.
Genna was quiet and suspicious but so proud. I loved how she had such big dreams and she didn’t let it phase her when she was in the past. She didn’t give any of the characters a pass simply because they were in a different era (Martha and the unforgivable word, Dr Brant’s general patronising air) and she was relentless in knowing who she was and why she was here. Her family was broken but interesting and you got the sense that they were going through their own shit. Her brother, who decided to gain power however he could, her sister who chose a different escape to Genna and her mother, who wanted her family to survive. None of the characters were soft but they felt very real. The dual nature of so many of the characters, Dr Brant with him treating people for free but then looking down at women and black people as automatically less intelligent despite all evidence to the contrary, Mrs Brant who didn’t come into her own until near the end of the book and even Martha herself. I think the only character I didn’t like was Judah who seemed very narrow-minded in his own way. He had his own dream and views and he didn’t seem to consider Genna’s views as important as his. Or he thought she only held those views because she was ignorant. I thought Genna could have done much better for herself and that she cared for Judah more because he made her feel special and he was an escape from her life.
The plot was far more historically based than Kindred with the Irish, the war and the riots and I think it was better for it. Genna loved New York, that much was obvious, and in the book, she became part of the history. The writing of the riots was just brilliant and there were several quotes I just want to write on my wall so I can look at them every day.
This book had a similar ending to Kindred, as it was bittersweet and you never did find out what happened in the past to the people Genna knew. But there was one line at the end which blew me away and if I had been skim reading it, I would have missed the significance of it completely. That line changed the whole book for me and I knew that everything has been leading up to that. Like Genna’s whole life was about to change again and she didn’t even know it.
Four stars and highly recommend!