Review of Time's Mouth by Edan Lepucki
Lepucki's strange, interesting time-travel novel centers around betrayal, broken hearts, second chances, and the power of hate--and of love.
When Ursa was a child she was horribly abused by her father, and while she feels that she's pushed beyond it, the trauma has undoubtedly shaped her.
When she flees to remote California, her ability to travel through memory to revisit the past secures her a revered role in a counterculture 1950s community that builds around her.
A friend's borrowed, rambling home becomes a refuge for unwed mothers and mothers-to-be, with the women on site treating Ursa as a goddess--and the children being horrifically neglected as the women enjoy proximity highs when Ursa time-travels.
Ursa's neglect of her own son Ray causes him to flee--vowing to cut ties with Ursa forever. But Ursa's ability to travel through time has, unbeknownst to all, passed on to Ray's child Opal. A meeting of grandmother and grandchild could change everything forever.
Ursa's brokenness and bitterness seem to stem directly from her terrible childhood abuse, yet she is far from a sympathetic character. She is petty, self-important, and rigid. The rift she forces into her own family is heartbreaking but doesn't feel fixable.
The time travel itself is fascinating. A precious few in the story have the ability, and the power can be used for good (reminiscing, reliving beloved moments, spending moments with those lost to us) or evil (creating a whirlwind of negative feeling that shapes others' actions in significant ways).
I loved the father-daughter bond, and Opal is a wonderfully quirky, self-possessed young person. The ending is satisfying as well.
I received an audiobook edition of this book courtesy of Libro.fm and Recorded Books, Inc.
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Lepucki is also the author of the novels California, Woman Number 17, There's No Place Like Home, and If You're Not Yet Like Me.
If you're intrigued by time-travel stories, you might also like the books on the Greedy Reading Lists Six Riveting Time-Travel Stories to Explore, Six More Riveting Time-Travel Stories to Explore, and Six Second-Chance, Do-Over, Reliving-Life Stories.