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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Haddix Novel A Thrilling Race Against Time

The year is 1840. At least, that's what the children in Clifton, Indiana, believe. They have grown up wearing homemade clothing, riding in horse-drawn wagons, and writing on slates with chalk. For 14-year-old Jessie Keyser, it's all part of her normal, everyday life. Then, an epidemic breaks out in Clifton, a mysterious sickness that's affecting kids all over town, including Katie, Jessie's younger sister. Panicked, Jessie's mother takes her aside and delivers the shocking news: It is really 1996. She explains that the people of Clifton are actually part of a living history museum, where tourists can observe life as it was lived in 1840. When the Keysers agreed to live as authentic 19th Century villagers, the agreement had included access to modern medicine. But now, there is a diptheria breakout and no medicine has come into the village. Without it, children will die. Jessie's mother warns her that the founders of Clifton don't want to help, so someone will have to sneak out of the community and find aid. Fearing her disappearance would attract too much attention, Jessie's mother asks Jessie to go. Although she is scared, Jessie slips into the jeans and T-shirt her mom offers her and sneaks into the terrifying world of 1996. With little more than a name and a phone number, she begins her dangerous quest to find help. When she finally reaches the man who is supposed to help her, Jessie realizes just how dangerous her mission really is. With Clifton's founders desperate to find her, Jessie must use all her strength and wit to avoid captureand save the people and town she loves.

This is the ingenious plot behind Margaret Peterson Haddix's fascinating novel, Running Out of Time. The story's premise intrigued me, but the suspense kept me turning the pages. It's a fast-paced, thrilling adventure that is absolutely unputdownable. I loved it. There were aspects that confused me (How come no planes ever flew over Clifton? Why was Jessie instructed to contact a stranger on the outside instead of her grandparents or other relatives?), but overall, it's an awesome read.

Although Haddix excels at writing taut, exciting plots, it's the questions behind her books that really give me pause. This one pits the old world against the new and begs to know which is better, safer? It asks which parents should do - shelter their children against evil or thrust them into the world and teach them how to cope? It also demands to know when children are old enough to learn the harsh truths of their worlds? As a parent, I find these questions endlessly fascinating.

If you liked the ideas behind City of Ember and the movie The Village, check this one out. You're sure to enjoy it.


  1. I enjoyed this one very much. It is also *eligible* by the way for the Cardathon challenge if you want to post it over there as well :)

  2. This one really sounds good...but you poked a big hole in the premise when you wondered why no planes ever flew over the village. Now I wonder if that would spoil the book for me.

  3. Becky - I was going to e-mail you about this anyway...or if anyone else knows, feel free to advise me...Is there an easy way to publish the same post on 2 or more blogs at the same time? For example, if I want to publish the same review on my blog and Becky's, how would I go about it? Short of copying and pasting, that is??

  4. Becky - that last comment was from me. I was logged in as my husband.

    Sam - I hope I didn't spoil the plot for you. It really is a good book. The lack of planes was just something I was wondering about.

    Eva, Natalie - You should definitely read this book! It's fast and exciting.

  5. I really enjoyed this book too, one of her best I think.

  6. i read this one maybe six years ago and really liked it. i think it was my first Haddix novel - and i've since read almost, if not all, of her others.


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