If I Could Turn Back Time by Cindy Cowles
Genre: Young Adult, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Short Story (77 pages)
Age Recommendation: 16+
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 3 Stars
Review by: Astilbe
We all make mistakes, do things we regret. But sometimes, the mistake is so big that the regret chips away at you on a daily basis. What ifs and if onlys circle through your head like a broken record, driving you crazy. You feel as if there’s nothing you wouldn’t do for just one chance to go back and do things different.
What if you did get the opportunity? Would you take it?
Hi, my name is Sara. I’m in my fourth year of college and it’s midterms week – the week before Winter Break…and two weeks before the fourth anniversary of my big screwup. It’s Monday, my Sociology instructor isn’t here, and taking his place is a middle aged sub who introduces herself as Beatrice Bomgarten. She’s a little odd, but she isn’t giving us a test, so it’s cool. Instead, she turns on CNN, and a breaking news story – and that’s where shit gets weird.
Next thing I know, I’m waking up in my old bedroom, back in my senior year of high school…two weeks before I made the choice that impacted the rest of my life. Only, in my head, I’m still a twenty-two year old college student with all my memories intact. I don’t know how it happened, but I’m being given a chance for a do-over, an opportunity to turn back time and change the past. God, I hope I don’t screw it up.
Everyone makes mistakes, but some mistakes are much harder to get over than others are.
The premise of this story caught my attention immediately. The idea of having the opportunity to turn back time and fix a previous mistake was appealing. I couldn’t wait to see how Sara would react to her second chance and if she’d be successful at making different choices this time around. I ended up reading the whole thing in one sitting because I simply had to know what was going to happen next.
The dialogue didn’t feel natural to me. Many of the characters spoke in long, clunky sentences that drove a lot of the plot forward. They often directly told the audience how they were feeling instead of showing those emotions through their actions. Given that Sara was described as a smart person, I really thought she’d be better at expressing her feelings in other ways than she was.
One of the things I liked the most about the science fiction and fantasy elements in this tale was how much they left to the imagination. This isn’t the kind of storyline that I’ve seen being used very often in this genre, so the author had a lot of room to come up with her own ideas about how everything should unfold. I enjoyed seeing what she did with her idea as well as how much freedom she gave her audience to come up with our own theories about what was really going on in the beginning.
There were a few plot holes. For example, there were certain things happening with Beatrice, the substitute teacher, that were mentioned briefly but never fully explained. It was distracting to wonder about this while reading other scenes. I can’t go into detail about this part of the storyline without giving away spoilers, but I would have appreciated it if the narrator had spent more time talking about what was going on with this character in particular.
Sara was such a serious and sweet girl. I liked her immediately, and my feelings about her only grew warmer as I got to know her better. She was the kind of character that I wished I could hug and take out for a cup of tea because of how earnest she was to change her life after she woke up and realized she was back in high school. The fact that she was so hard on herself was both sad and totally true to who she was as an individual.
If you’ve ever regretted something you did in the past, I’d recommend checking out If I Could Turn Back Time.