Thursday, September 09, 2021

Your Life Has Been Delayed

Mason, Michelle I. Your Life Has Been Delayed
September 7th 2021 by Bloomsbury YA
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

High school junior Jenny Waters is visiting her grandparents in New York City in 1995. She hopes to convince her parents to let her go to journalism school there to get out of her Missouri suburb. When the plane is due to land, however, there are problems. The control tower has no information about the flight. When they are finally allowed to land, everyone on board discovers that it is now 2020, and their plane disappeared without a trace 25 years previously. Jenny's parents are missionaries and are out of the country, but her younger brother, Bradley, comes to pick her up... but he's now 43 years old, married, and has two children! He has thought for the whole time that she, like everyone else on the plane, was dead. Clearly, there are a lot of changes that have occurred during the missing time, and these are hard for Jenny to swallow. Her grandparents in New York are dead, and her grandmother is in a nursing facility. Her parents are retired. Worst of all, her best friend, Angie, has two children of her own, and her husband is quite a surprise! Not only that, but to deal with her grief, she wrote a book about Jenny after she graduated from college. This is just one of the many things that Jenny's family tries to keep from her. Despite being thrown 25 years into the future, Jenny wants to get back to her regularly scheduled life, and starts back to school to finish her senior year. She was going to be editor of the newspaper, and the newspaper advisor is still the same teacher Jenny had, so she makes her co-editor with Ashling, who is not happy about it and bristles at Jenny's notoriety. The only one who treats Jenny like a normal high school kid is Dylan, Angie's son, who calmly explains things like cell phones and social media to her. His twin sister, JoJo (named after Jenny), won't even talk to Jenny. With her parents trying to shield her from everything, and kids at school treating her differently, Jenny is glad when the passengers and crew put together a support group. There's a lot to talk about, from scientists trying to test their blood, to an organization called PATROL that is trying to claim that the reemergence of the flight is a hoax. The people in the group, from Art, a talkative college student to the 80 year old Mr. and Mrs. Spring, don't really care WHY they are not in 1995. They just all need to figure out how their lives will go forward, and don't have much patience with the media that is trying to destroy them. When PATROL claims to know a way for the group to return to 1995, will Jenny and the others think about returning, or will they embrace their new reality?
Strengths: The most brilliant part of this was the general air of the 1990s that pervaded this book. It's like Ms. Mason read a chapter of The Face on the Milk Carton every morning before writing! The overprotective parents, the predominately white, middle class cast, the overwrought but sweet romance with Dylan, and the fact that Jenny is a junior in high school and won't drink at parties all would be right at home in a young adult novel from this era. The comments about the mall being "an institution", is the reason school is starting so early in August because "Did they move Labor Day?", and not wanting to "waste hours on the computer" when she could actually call her friends are also brilliant. It's okay that we never get a good explanation for what happened, and all I could think about after reading this was what if someone had flown in 1965 and returned in 1990? At least Jenny used computers to lay out the newspaper. What would it be like for a character to go from typewriters to primitive cell phones?
Weaknesses: While I understand the subplot with PATROL, and the government intervention on a creepy level is completely in line with books from the 1990s, it somehow didn't grab my interest. 
What I really think: I love time travel books, and most of those travel back in time. This was a really fantastic trip into the "future", with a lot of interesting homages to the 1990s. And yes, I could have been one of the teachers that Jenny had in both time periods. Ouch! This will be hugely popular with some of my readers who love YA romances, even though it is speculative fiction.

Klymkiw, Sarah and Haninson, Kim. 
Fashion Conscious: Change the World with a Change of Clothes
August 20th 2020 by Red Shed
Copy provided by the author

Here's something that many people have forgotten during the pandemic: "Clothes are one of the first things we see when we meet someone new, and they influence our first impressions of them." (page 10) Even though many of my students spent a year and a half wearing their pajamas, you'd think they would know that continuing to wear pajamas to school makes them look less than serious!

I love that the book started with this, because people who buy the most clothes do so to bolster their personal identity and style. Letting them know that they can make a personal or artistic statement with their clothes while reducing the impact of their consumption on the environment is crucial to nudging them to make important changes. 

There is so much information in this brightly colored, well illustrated book. We get to see the life cycle of a t shirt, and find out how to reduce our dependence on new fashion items by wearing what we already have, purchase from second hand sources, and make over and mend items to lengthen their lives and keep them out of landfills. There is also a good deal of information about reducing the impact of new purchases by looking at the sources and materials in them. There are side bars with additional information, such as a look at the historical Trianlge Shirtwaist Factory fire, and interviews with designers of sustainable fashion. 

The illustrations help move the book along, with flow charts, bulleted lists, and pictorial examples of mending and sewing techniques that are discussed. Because of my sewing background, I know all of the repair techniques, but they are well described. The next time I have a white t shirt that has gone too gray, I'm definitely going to use the book's instructions for shibori dying. If I use laundry bluing, it will make the perfect shirt to wear with my upcycled denim projects! 

The Day Glo coral wouldn't have been my choice for the primary color in the illustrations, but that's just a personal preference. To me, the color of the 2020s is Pantone's First Timer Green, which would have been a little easier on the eyes. I'm willing to overlook that, however, since this book says that the current trend for distressed jeans is very bad not only for the environment but also for the people who make them. Such a hideous and wasteful trend!

I'm looking forward to sharing this one with my fashionable students; I clearly enjoy my clothes for work a little too much, but always tell students that I get my outfits from the thrift store. It not only sends a good envrionmental message, but lets students know that there's no shame in not spending big money on the newest fashions! I recently checked out Expressionista (2013) to a student and was glad to see that it had held up despite being eight years old.

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