All Our Yesterdays
Author: Cristin Terrill
Published September 3rd, 2013 by Disney Hyperion
Goodreads Summary: What would you change?
Imprisoned in the heart of a secret military base, Em has nothing except the voice of the boy in the cell next door and the list of instructions she finds taped inside the drain.
Only Em can complete the final instruction. She’s tried everything to prevent the creation of a time machine that will tear the world apart. She holds the proof: a list she has never seen before, written in her own hand. Each failed attempt in the past has led her to the same terrible present—imprisoned and tortured by a sadistic man called the doctor while war rages outside.
Marina has loved her best friend, James, since they were children. A gorgeous, introverted science prodigy from one of America’s most famous families, James finally seems to be seeing Marina in a new way, too. But on one disastrous night, James’s life crumbles, and with it, Marina’s hopes for their future. Marina will protect James, no matter what. Even if it means opening her eyes to a truth so terrible that she may not survive it… at least, not as the girl she once was. Em and Marina are in a race against time that only one of them can win.
All Our Yesterdays is a wrenching, brilliantly plotted story of fierce love, unthinkable sacrifice, and the infinite implications of our every choice.
My Review and Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: This is a book that keeps you reading. I couldn’t put it down. I found myself reading whenever I could (including times when I was holding my sleeping son or when I should have been sleeping). When you find out how Marina and Em are connected, it just blew my mind! I then had to find out how everything was going to turn out. I was just so impressed with everything:
First, the plot. It is so complex and intricate. You have to pay attention to keep up with the timeline, but it isn’t so bad that you’ll get lost. It is so admirable that the author was able to craft such intense timelines and intertwine them seamlessly.
Second, the language. I loved how Cristin Terrill wrote. The imagery throughout transported you into the story.
Third, the suspense. I just HAD to know what was going to happen!
Fourth, the characters. In a way that I’ve never experience before, Cristin Terrill truly gets you into the minds and hearts of the characters. You understand their motives, who they used to be, who they’ll become, all because of the way that Terrill tells the story and crafts her characters. You feel their heartbreak with them (and one particular realization that you find out in the very end just broke my heart and blew my mind), and you are so invested in everything they do.
Finally, the themes. The discussions that would come from this novel would be so interesting. Just the idea of power and corruption that is dealt with would lead to quite a debate.
Ricki also pointed out in her review how fun it would be to have students imagine what they would change if time travel existed.
This text would be a wonderful mentor text to discuss plot and character development, theme, and style. And most importantly, it will be a text that students will be intrigued with, not want to put down, and share with everyone.
Discussion Questions: What would you change if you had the ability to change time?; How far would you go to protect your best friend?; How did Cristin Terrill build suspense throughout the novel?; Why does power lead to corruption? Where have we seen this happen in history?
We Flagged: “Far down the hallway, I hear the clink of a door. Someone is approaching. I bolt upright and lunge for the drain. No telling what the doctor will do if he finds me breaking into it, and if he sees the sheet of paper… The though sends ice through my veins. He’ll kill me for sure. Hands clumsy with rushing, I break the spoon into several pieces and drop them down the drain. I can now make out a pair of heavy boots against the cement. I jam the grating back onto the drain and replace the screws as best I can with fingertips and nails. I swipe up the plastic bag and piece of paper and throw myself at my mattress. I show them both underneath just as Kessler’s face appears at the small window in my cell door.” (p. 9-10)
Read This If You Loved: Chronal Engine by Greg Leitich Smith, Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier, Awaken by Katie Kacvinsky, Lost Time by Susan Maupin Schmid, When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead, Found by Margaret Peterson Haddix, London Calling by Edward Bloor