A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Time travel and the underlying science behind the idea are central to the story. Along the way, there are details from class material in middle and high school subjects.
Strong messages of friendship, kindness, and empathy. Also of seeing your past behavior through new eyes, realizing how you could do better, and then doing it.
Positive Role Models
Time travel shows Mason his life from a new perspective, and given a second chance to avoid disastrous errors, he's more thoughtful and responsible. Since Gymboree, Mason and Ty have developed a near-telepathic friendship, so its breach when they're 12 is devastating, life-changing, and pretty much the beginning of the end. Classmates Ava and Charisse are strong, smart, and know their own minds. Mason's teachers, one in particular, offer a lot of support and enrichment. Mason's father is enough of a flaky, unreliable man-child that Mason's responsible, hardworking mom gives up and divorces him.
Nerds befriend jocks, jocks befriend nerds, everybody discovers new things about themselves and each other. Girls triumph over their nerd boyfriends with science fair project. The main characters present as White.
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Violence & Scariness
An unlikely but fateful fight on the stairs between Ty and Mason results in Mason accidentally knocking down his favorite teacher, thereby making the fatal error that unravels a lifetime of academic excellence. One of the worst things about Mason's unraveled life is the untimely death of his beloved dog, who's hit by a truck. In the do-over timeline, Mason body-slams a bullying jock, knocks him flat -- and winds up joining the football team. Renaissance astronomer Tycho Brahe -- a big hero of Ava's -- is said to have had a silver nose because he lost the original in a duel.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
It's seventh grade, and suddenly dating is a thing. Two 12-year-old BFFs with a crush on the same girl is a recipe for trouble, and an unplanned kiss leads to everything going off the rails. As time-travel kicks in, multiple scenarios and possibilities unfold, but the fateful crush and its potential consequences loom large. Two teachers fall in love and get married.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that bestselling author Gordon Korman is in fine form with Operation Do-Over, packing much wisdom and many life lessons into a sometimes poignant, sometimes hysterical, always relatable tale of two lifelong best friends deeply fascinated with time travel. When, at age 12, they both fall for the same girl, there's an epic falling out, after which things go bad on many fronts very quickly. But when narrator Mason, now a senior in high school and fresh from the latest life-derailing disaster (which includes accidentally injuring his favorite teacher), finds himself back in his 12-year-old body, back in middle school with still-BFF Ty, he's determined to avoid everything that wrecked their relationship -- and often sees his past actions through older and wiser eyes. Along the way, middle schoolers share the occasional fateful kiss, parents get divorced, teachers find love and get married. A dog meets an untimely death. Bullying kids experience life-changing moments. And, as usually happens when you start messing with timelines, unexpected things happen.
Is It Any Good?
Time travel meets middle school in Gordon Korman's hysterical, poignant, relatable tale of a friendship gone bad and a second chance to make it right. Operation Do-Over takes the 17-year-old narrator back to his 12-year-old self and the fateful moment when a girl came between him and his best friend. It's been one catastrophe after another ever since, so he's determined to do better this time. Seeing things through older eyes gives him a lot of insight into what to avoid -- and also makes him notice a lot of social dynamics he missed the first time around. Hilarity, heartstring-tugging, and hard-won wisdom ensue, and, as often happens with stories of timeline-tampering, unexpected things happen.
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