Time travel is such a mesmerising concept. Our fascination with returning to the past to relive precious moments, provide a heads up on the future (Humm lottery numbers), or prevent a devastating event keeps us enthralled in the many tales told. She Wouldn’t Change a Thing is a time travel story with a difference and an impossible choice at its heart; would you sacrifice the happy family life you currently have to save another innocent life?
Dr Maria Forssman is thirty-nine years old, a psychiatrist, married to Will, and has two daughters. She is also nine months pregnant with a baby boy. Maria’s life is chaotic managing her job, family matters, getting the children ready for school and all the requests for parent intervention. I felt embarrassed with the opening chapter with its vivid account of a wife/mother’s morning where the husband gets ready and runs out the door, leaving the house, children, appointments and for good measure, drops his appointment request on the lap of his wife.
When Maria arrives at her practice and encounters a patient, Sylvia, who explains she is from the future, there are steps Maria must take and steps she must not, including staying away from a storage unit they rent. Curiosity killed the cat, and it seems it wasn’t too kind to Maria either. After visiting the storage unit, seventeen-year-old Maria wakes up in her parents’ home in Alabama in 1988.
Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander jumped to mind where returning to the future is nearly impossible, and people would think you crazy if you talked of time travel. Indeed, Maria’s parents are deeply concerned about her mental state and seek professional help, vividly painted with all its spiralling frustrations and worries. Likewise, this is not a story that regales with the adventures of a protagonist repeatedly travelling between different periods, but instead presents a stark heart-breaking choice; stay and lose your previous life or return and allow a devasting event to occur that could be unimaginable to live with. Which loss is greater? What can your conscience live with?
“The battle in her mind was exhausting, like she was fighting a duel between two sides that were perfectly matched rivals.”
The universe has a purpose in returning Maria to the past, and there is a personal connection. The dilemma is wonderfully drawn, equally convincing, and the emotions flood the pages in this tight plot.
Sarah Adlakha’s novel is sensitively thought-provoking, compelling and as realistic as time travel can be. We’ll never stop imagining the adventures of time travel, the fascination with the opportunities to right wrongs, and the life-changing insights that could be to our advantage. However, Adlakha used the concept to explore the unmanageable choices we could face if we know the consequences of what we did or did not do and the empty feeling of loss if we have to give up a happy and loving future.
I would highly recommend reading this book, and I want to thank Macmillan-Tor/Forge and NetGalley for providing me with a free ARC in return for an honest review.