Thursday, December 03, 2020

The Retake

December 1st 2020 by Delacorte Press
E ARC provided by Netgalley

Zoe is apprehensive about the first day of seventh grade; she and her absolutely best friend Laura have had to spend the summer apart for various reasons, and they haven't reconnected for some of their necessary rituals such as discussing their first day outfits. Because she's been following Laura's social media feed, she can tell that Laura has been hanging out with some new friends while Zoe was away, and her brief interactions with Laura confirm that some of her priorities have shifted. For instance, the two were very involved with Future Cities and hoped for spots on the volleyball team, but being in dramatic productions seems more important to Laura now. After a disastrous first day of school that involves a spot on her white jeans and her phone being taken away, Zoe misses volleyball tryouts to just go home. Her older sister, Taryn, gives her a hard time about it, and her mother insists that she needs to try other things. Since Zoe's mom and Laura's mom are best friends, the two families (minus Laura's father, since her parents have recently divorced) have dinner together, but conversation is strained. When Zoe finds an app that mysteriously appeared on her phone while it was being help in the office, she selects a picture of a sleepover three months ago and hits the "back" button. She is transported to the sleepover, and tries to change things with Laura, as well as Ava, Hyacinth, and other girls. Things don't go quite the way she hopes, and she tries going to another point in time. Every time she thinks she can makes things different, she just makes them worse. Through these travels, however, she learns that she does really like Future Cities, that Clare is a far better friend than Laura, and that even when you are best friends with someone for a long time, you can still grow apart. Will Zoe be able to find a version of her middle school life that works for her? 
Strengths: Issues with friends are such a large part of the middle school experience that they could be included in every single book in all genres and it wouldn't be too many tales of this. Zoe and Laura's relationship is absolutely typical, and it was fascinating to see how many ways things could go wrong. I especially liked the use of technology in the book; while this might date the book at some point, Instagram has been a big part of tween culture since at least 2012. Zoe knowing what Laura is up to when she is not with her is something that wouldn't have happened a few years ago, and is a big problem! Zoe's disocvery of herself and what she likes, as well as her appreciation of the better qualities of other classmates makes this very hopeful, and the fact that she realizes that she and Laura will remain friends on some level but are different enough that they won't be best friends is a great, mature example for tween readers to see. I love this author's Secrets of My Hollywood Life series. 
Weaknesses: This was more invested in the friend drama than the time travel capabilities, which makes it perfect for actual tween readers, but disappointed me as an adult reader just a tiny bit. This is mainly because I desperately want to go back to September of 1979 and change my entire life and is not a fault of Ms. Calonita's writing!
What I really think: Definitely purchasing. I'm not sure why there aren't more time-travel-via-cell-phone books; there's a little of that in Jay Asher's The Future of Us, and of course Sarah Mlynowski's Gimme a Call (2010. 2010?! Wow. Seems like a read this just yesterday!) tackles this idea brilliantly. 

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