Charlotte Sometimes

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New York Review of Books, 2007 - Juvenile Fiction - 189 pages
5 Reviews
A time-travel story that is both a poignant exploration of human identity and an absorbing tale of suspense.

It's natural to feel a little out of place when you're the new girl, but when Charlotte Makepeace wakes up after her first night at boarding school, she's baffled: everyone thinks she's a girl called Clare Mobley, and even more shockingly, it seems she has traveled forty years back in time to 1918. In the months to follow, Charlotte wakes alternately in her own time and in Clare's. And instead of having only one new set of rules to learn, she also has to contend with the unprecedented strangeness of being an entirely new person in an era she knows nothing about. Her teachers think she's slow, the other girls find her odd, and, as she spends more and more time in 1918, Charlotte starts to wonder if she remembers how to be Charlotte at all. If she doesn't figure out some way to get back to the world she knows before the end of the term, she might never have another chance.

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Classic Children's Fantasy

User Review  - curelise - Borders

I normally don't read fantasy novels, but the Cure song of the same name was so intriguing to me that I just had to pick up this book (then out of print) and read the entire story. It is one of the ... Read full review

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Being in a new boarding school is tough enough as it is, but to wake up and find you are in another year (1918 - 40 years in the past), with a brand new name, is confusing and very scary. How can this happen and how do you get back to your present time?
That is precisely what happens to Charlotte Makepeace. She goes to sleep one night and wakes up the next morning as Clare Mobley. She has somehow time- travelled back in time 40 years. Luckily she meets an older girl who has a message for her from the girl's mother. Her mother says if a girl named Charlotte ever arrives at the school to please treat her with kindness. The reader then tries to figure out who Charlotte has met in her past that could be this girl's mother.
She and Clare in the following months exchange places frequently and live temporarily in each other's worlds. Both struggle to fit in and hope they are not discovered to be the wrong girl for that era. Although they physically never meet they correspond to each other through a journal and hiding notes in the hollow bedposts. The girls learn a lot about each other and give each other helpful information enabling them to cope much better with their unfamiliar lives.
Charlotte assimilates into the past and seemingly is accepted as Clare Mobley. Gradually she feels her real self slipping away and she struggles to hold onto her own persona. Will she be trapped in this time-warp forever? Will she ever know normalcy once again? Can she find a way to make that happen?
This haunting and enthralling tale sucks you right into the story. You are trying to solve the mysteries that the skilled author sets before you. I really enjoyed the eeriness of it all and just kept on reading to find out if Charlotte could indeed get back to her own reality. I know this unique book will be a great read for ages 9-12 year olds. Adults will love it too I am sure. I highly recommend this book.
 

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About the author (2007)

Penelope Farmer published her first book of short stories for children, The China People, in 1960. The Summer Birds, the first of several books in which Farmer writes about Charlotte or her sister Emma, was published in 1963 and received a Carnegie Medal commendation. In addition to writing novels for adults and children, Farmer has edited several literature anthologies. She lives in London.

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