A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Readers will learn about physics and time travel and various scientific theories pertaining to time travel. The book addresses the time-travel paradox as well as the danger of totalitarian governments.
All Our Yesterdays emphasizes the importance of unconditional love as well as realizing when a friend needs more help than you can offer. It also stresses the folly of thinking that one person can know what's best for society as a whole. There are some worthwhile lessons about self confidence and class issues.
Positive Role Models
Em and Finn are determined to fix the past to safeguard the future. Marina and Finn are both exemplary friends to James, who in turn is a good friend to Marina and Finn. Marina learns to stop judging others, particularly Finn, based on money and status. She also learns to value herself and not base her self-esteem on what other people think of her. Finn is funny, kind, protective, and selfless.
Violence & Scariness
Both timelines in All Our Yesterdays feature a fair amount of violence. A ruthless doctor and his boss have young prisoners regularly tortured (usually electrocuted but also beaten, sometimes to the point of unconsciousness). Major characters are shot and killed, other characters are beaten and traumatized, and one commits suicide.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Two 20-year-olds spend the night together in a hotel, and although it's obvious they have sex, the scene isn't described in a graphic way (they wake up in each other's arms and get physical again). They share a few other passionate kisses. Two teens kiss and quickly begin to take off their tops, but their hookup is short-lived.
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Strong language isn't too frequent, but there are instances of "f--k," "s--t," "bitch," "a--hole," and insults such as "monster," "freak," "devil," "stupid," "jerk," etc.
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Products & Purchases
Marina and James are both wealthy Washingtonians who attend(ed) the posh (and real) prep school Sidwell Friends (the Obama girls go there). Brands and car companies such as BMW, Mercedes, Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus are all mentioned.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Mentions of adults and teens drinking at high-school parties and grown-up events.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that All Our Yesterdays is the first in the Cassandra Chronicles sci-fi time-travel series, which follows three characters in the present and in a dystopian near future. There's a good bit of violence in the form of imprisonment, torture, beatings, shootings, and suicide. One timeline features a complicated love triangle, another includes two 20-year-olds having sex for the first time. Language is occasionally strong ("f--k," "s--t," "a--hole," and more) but not overly frequent. The book brings up lots of issues about friendship, obsession, loyalty and the implications of trying to change the past.
Is It Any Good?
Terrill's debut is an impressive page-turner that explores how tragedy and the desperate desire to fix the past can consume people. The book's two time settings also make it clear how much people can change in just a few years, from adolescence to early adulthood. Em at 20 -- who has survived the unthinkable and doesn't take anything for granted -- doesn't have much in common with her entitled, snobbish 16-year-old self, but her sense of loyalty and her desire to protect the people she loves remain steadfast parts of her character.
Although time-travel plots can get bogged down in the time travel paradox, Terrill explains it away and let's you get caught up in the characters -- both the worldly older versions and the clueless younger versions. She manages to pack in commentary about class (James and Marina are both rich Washington D.C. kids while their prep-school friend Finn is a scholarship student from the 'hood), ethics, and politics. Lest you think it's too heavy a read, Terrill also weaves in two different but equally compelling romantic story arcs featuring a remarkably funny, sweet, and sensitive guy who proves that there's much more to a person than meets the eye.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.