Flashback Friday: The Tea Rose

by Jennifer Donnelly

“We’re not punished for our sins, lad. We’re punished by them.”

This week I found out that Jennifer Donnelly will have a new young adult novel this fall (which I promptly secured an ARC of, and am so excited to read!), which I was taken aback by more because I check in on her website pretty regularly. So I decided to celebrate with my favorite Jennifer Donnelly title for Flashback Friday.

While Donnelly made her name with A Northern Light, The Tea Rose is my favorite title. It begins an epic trilogy filled with beautiful historical details and wonderfully drawn characters. The Tea Rose starts in England in 1888. Fiona grows up in the slums of London. She has dreams and a lover, and a life in the making. And then all of that is shattered by men striking back at her father’s attempts to unionize. Fiona flees to America. And we continue to follow her journey to make her dreams come true, and reconcile her former life. We explore complex issues and we get a good romance.

The Tea Rose is followed up by the Winter Rose and the Wild Rose. Each installment is impeccably drawn and deep, while remaining compelling throughout. Donnelly is just so good at drawing historical worlds. She doesn’t romanticize the past, but it still feels tangible. Her characters feel like real people existing in a real world. Their world and circumstances are much different than ours, and yet she manages to highlight the similarities as well.

Donnelly’s upcoming YA title, These Shallow Graves, looks to be a promising addition to this tradition in a way that I wasn’t wow-ed by her mermaid novel Deep Blue. I’m excited to see her come back to historical fiction, not that I do not believe she isn’t capable of executing other genres, just that I’m selfish and love her historical novels. Also be sure to check out her time travel YA historical Revolution!

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Flashback Friday: Both Sides of Time

by Caroline B. Cooney

“People think they own time. They have watches and clocks and digital pulses. But they are wrong. Time owns them.”

In honor of Barnes & Noble kicking off their Get Pop Cultured events with time travel weekend ( which starts today with events through Sunday), I want to recognize another of my favorite time travel novels from my childhood. This is really the novel that began it all– Both Sides of Time. But let’s be real, I’m going to find any excuse I can to talk about time travel.

Annie is just a typical 90s girl, but she’s a romantic at heart. And the typical 90s boys just aren’t up to par. She goes back to turn of the century America and falls in love with rich boy Strat. The online summary mentions love triangles. I remember no love triangles. I remember Annie and Strat and their love. There were class differences. And forbidden love. And great outfits.

We get gems such as

“Strat yearned to imagine her without even the thin white dress, but it would not be honorable, so he prevented himself from having such a fantasy.”

Get it? Because he’s too honorable for that. He’s fighting his impulses. Stinky 90s boys would totally imagine Annie without her dress.

This series was the bomb.com for me as a preteen (when saying things like the bomb.com was borderline socially acceptable). The series only went up in my esteem when a sequel features a heavy consumption plotline. I read these books just a couple of years before falling in love with Moulin Rouge and I absolutely still refer to tuberculosis as consumption because of both of these things.

While I included the newer cover at the top of this post, the above cover is the one I read from my local library. Here it might appear that Annie falls in love with a  ghost, but I promise that’s Strat. Although, he’s obviously more attractive in my imagination.

I tried and failed and tried again to read The Face on the Milk Carton as a preteen. But the Both Sides of Time series I devoured twice, maybe three times, surely not more right?