Title: North of Nowhere, by Liz Kessler, 264 pages.
Publisher: Candlewick Press, 2013
Mia and her mother rush to the tiny fishing village of Porthaven when word comes that her Grandad has disappeared. Mia has double reason to be unhappy: not only is she worried about Grandad, but she's missing spring break with her friends back home. And when she "meets" a girl her own age who seems so much like her, they can't seem to actually meet up. But Mia's self-pity starts to fall away when things get really weird, and she has to risk everything to save everything.
It is a tiny bit of a spoiler to say what I'm about to say, so I'm putting the cover image here to keep you from looking if you don't want to. But I can't review this without talking about it.
Okay, what I want to say is that this is one of the more interesting and twisted time-travel books I've read, and the author makes great use of the paradoxes of the genre. The nature of the mystery is only slowly revealed, though this reader had no trouble seeing that time travel is involved, even from the blurb (which is why I'm not too concerned about this being a spoiler). That's okay, because it's what is done with the time travel that is so gripping. [Though I believe that the author makes one small anachronistic error, introducing a plastic bag in an era when they were not in common use (I know. I was alive then. I remember when plastic shopping bags became common, and I was old enough to make fun of the ridiculous things), the time differences are otherwise handled well and convincingly, and that was the only editorial lapse I noticed.]
The characters are well-drawn, and believable, with 13-year-old Mia displaying a convincing tendency to shift between her own selfish interests and disappointments and a mature desire to help her mother and grandmother however she can. She mopes over the movies she misses, checks every few minutes to see if a miracle has occurred and she has cell reception after all--but manages to put all that aside when she really has to. Other characters are less complete, but this is Mia's story, and they feel real enough to be her world. The story is compelling, moves swiftly, and kept me reading right through to the end.
I was dubious at first (because weird time travel isn't wholly my thing), but Kessler won me over, and I give this one a strong recommendation to anyone who likes slightly off-beat novels with a touch of the fantastic. Oh, and I love the cover. Those blues and greens really are my favorites!
Full Disclosure: I checked North of Nowhere out of my library, and received nothing from the author or publisher in exchange for my honest review. The opinions expressed herein are my own and no one else's.