Children's Literature - Phyllis Kennemer
Devi is devastated. Although she and Bryan have dated throughout her high school years, she has broken up with him just before the senior prom. She is wishing she could go back in time and erase the relationship from her life. Then, her cell phone falls into water. When she retrieves it, the only number she can call is herself as a beginning freshman. Devi gives her younger self advice for two weeks. She insists that Frosh Devi should not go out with Bryan, and she advises her about improving her study habits and adding extracurricular activities so that she can get into a better college. Each time Frosh Devi does something differently, Senior Devi is thrust into an unfamiliar situation. She gets letters of acceptance from different colleges and when her friends mention her prior boyfriends, she has no recollection of having been with them. Frosh Devi persists in some of the changes as she drops others. These changes throw Senior Devi's life into turmoil. Her friends have also changed. She doesn't know who she has agreed to go to the prom with. The changes in her parents' lives are bizarre and unbelievable. Senior Devi has no memory of what has happened, and it is too much of a stretch to accept that her actions affected their lives so drastically. The concept that every decision we make has an impact on what we become is commendable, but the constant changing of scenes and situations is so confusing that the story as a whole lacks credibility. Reviewer: Phyllis Kennemer, Ph.D.
Teens who long to fix past mistakes can do so vicariously in Mlynowski's (the Magic in Manhattan series) farcical fantasy. After retrieving her cellphone from a fountain, high school senior Devi discovers the only person she can call is herself—three years earlier. She immediately sees this as a way to warn herself not to get involved with the boyfriend who will break her heart. Freshman Devi is reluctant to take the advice of a “Crazy Stalker Girl” from the future, but eventually decides to change her fate by refusing to date a cute baseball player, forming a tighter bond with her girlfriends, and trying to persuade her father to quit his job before he gets laid off. As Devi strives to rewrite her history, unexpected mishaps occur. Switching between each Devi's perspective, the book delivers a mixed message about meddling with fate, showing that taking charge of one's life is important but indicating that some things—like falling in love—are destined to happen. Nonetheless, Devi's frenzied attempts to better herself create some funny moments and a touching conclusion. Ages 12-up. (Apr.)
In the waning weeks of her senior year of high school, Devi is wishing for a four-year do-over. Longtime love Bryan has broken up with her to attend college in Montreal, and because Devi's been so wrapped up in her relationship with Bryan, her relationships with her former BFFs and older sister Maya have evaporated and she's barely managed to be admitted to a very low-tier state university. An accidental dunk in the local mall's fountain transforms her cell phone into a time-traveling communications device, letting senior-year Devi talk to her freshman-year self. Older Devi, bent on righting the wrongs of the last four years, pressures younger Devi into abandoning Bryan and focusing on friends, grades and extracurricular activities. Every small change freshman Devi makes effects a dramatic change in senior Devi's reality-a query about starting a girl's golf team yields buff arms and acceptance to UCLA, for example-eventually leading the two Devis to embrace moderation in matters both academic and romantic. Fun and easy to relate to, but no great shakes. (Time-travel chick-lit. YA)
VOYA - Jennifer Ingram
Seventeen-year-old Devi drops her phone in a fountain at the mall. The incident makes it possible for Devi to call her fourteen-year-old self from the future, warning her to turn down a date with Bryan, who will monopolize her high school existence and break her heart at the end of it. Fourteen-year-old Devi initially follows the advice from the future, which leads her to a supersuccessful high school career culminating in admission to Harvard. Then she ignores the advice from the future, turning into a dropout and shop girl. Finally, the two Devis work together to set things back to where they belong. Mlynowski plays with alternate worlds in this novel, exploring how different priorities in high school can affect future success. She plays with ethics, too, when future Devi feeds exam answers to her past selfMlynowski is asking whether the end justifies the means (it does not). Still, the novel has no great substance, and its close focus on high school life becomes tiring after awhile. Perhaps a shorter, tighter book might have worked better. Reviewer: Jennifer Ingram
School Library Journal
Gr 7–10—Just weeks away from high school graduation and suffering from being dumped by her long-term boyfriend, Devi's cell phone magically downloads a time warp app after an accidental dunk in the mall fountain in this novel (Delacorte, 2010) by Sarah Mlynowski. The one person she can call is her freshman self. The "girls" name themselves "Ivy" (the older Devi) and "Frosh" (the younger). Ivy convinces Frosh to change her choices in order to revise Ivy's present life. College acceptances and the circumstances surrounding Ivy's family and friends morph continually as Ivy demands more and more modifications from Frosh. The personas of the main character plus the mercurial situations of every character in the book will probably perplex listeners. Add a basically unvoiced narration by Cassandra Campbell and confusion reigns as listeners try to sort out just who is talking, what year it is, and who is taking whom to the prom. It is also difficult to ascertain whether parts of the reading are unspoken thoughts or audible conversations. The beginning and ending of each disk is not indicated, nor is the number of each disk. Chapters are announced. For many teens, the print version is apt to be better accepted than the audiobook.—Jennifer Ward, Albany Public Library, NY
Read an Excerpt
I should just return Bryan’s watch to Nordstrom and go home. Instead, I’m sitting by the circular fountain in the Stonybrook Mall, staring at the window of the Sunrise Skin Spa. It features a poster of a wrinkle- free woman and the slogan Go Back in Time.
Sounds good to me. If I could go back in time, there’s lots I’d tell my younger self.
In third grade, do not let Karin Ferris cut your bangs. Your best friend is no stylist. She’s going to accidentally cut them too short. And too crooked. And she won’t always be your best friend either.
In ﬁfth grade, do not put marshmallows in the toaster oven, even though it seems like a good idea. Toasty! Gooey! Yummy! No. When they expand, the tip of one of the marshmallows kisses the burner, and the toaster catches ﬁre, and your entire family will forever bring up the story about how you almost burnt the house down.
Sophomore year: don’t leave your retainer in a napkin in the cafeteria—unless you want to wade through three spaghetti- and- meatball- ﬁlled garbage bins to ﬁnd it.
This December: do not buy the Dolly jeans you like in a size 4 because you believe they’ll stretch. They will not.
May twenty- ﬁrst: do not buy Him a silver watch for a surprise graduation present, because then you will spend senior skip day at the mall returning it. Which brings me to the most important tip.
About Him. Bryan.
If I could go back in time, the most important thing I would tell myself would be this: never ever fall for Bryan. I would warn fourteen- year- old me never even to go out with Him in the ﬁrst place. Or even better—the party where we ofﬁcially met when I was a freshman never would have happened. Okay, the party could have happened, but when he called me later and asked me out, I would have said no. Nice of you to ask but I am just not interested. Thanks but no thanks. Have a nice life. Maybe I’d tell myself to stay home instead and organize my closet.
Imagine that. Talking to my fourteen-year-old self. I wish.
I spot Veronica at Bella Boutique, right beside the Sunrise Skin Spa. She waves. I wave back. “Devi! Come see my new stock!” she calls. “It’s stunning!” As if I’d listen to her. She’s the one who swore up and down that my jeans would stretch. “I’ll give you the employee discount!” she offers, even though I haven’t worked a shift since the winter holidays.
“I’ll come look in a minute,” I call back to her. I rummage through my purse, ﬁnd my phone, and dial for my messages. I want to hear the one he left this morning. Again. I’ve only listened to it once. Fine, seven times. I know: pathetic. But I keep hoping each time that it’ll be different.
“Hi, Devi. It’s me.” Bryan’s voice is low and raspy, like a smoker’s. We tried cigarettes once, together, at the Morgan Lookout on Mount Woodrove when we were sophomores. But when we kissed, he tasted like a dirty sock, so that was the end of our smoking.
Until our relationship went up in smoke.
“I wish you’d answer,” his voice continues. “You always answer.” A pause as though he’s waiting for me to answer. “I’m sorry. I mean, I’m really, really sorry. I never meant to hurt you.”
The message is still playing in my ear, but I can barely hear, because now I’m crying, and my cheeks are all wet and my hand is all wet and how could he have told me he loves me when he obviously doesn’t and—
Like a bar of soap in the shower, my cell phone has slipped through my ﬁngers and landed in the fountain.
Superb. One more thing to tell my younger (by two seconds) self: don’t drop your cell phone into a house-size saucer of green chlorine. I peer into the water. A ﬂash of silver twinkles up at me. Is that it? Nope. It’s a nickel. The pond is ﬁlled with coins in addition to my phone. Are there really people out there who believe that throwing a nickel into the water can make a wish come true?
Aha! I see it, I see it! I stretch out to reach it, but it’s a bit too far away. I lie down on my stomach and reach again. A little more... almost there...
The cell phone gets pulled further out of my reach by the swirling water jets within the fountain. Ah, crapola— I’m going to need to get in there.
Luckily, I’m wearing ﬂip- ﬂops. I look around to make sure no security people are watching, then stand on the bench, roll up the bottoms of my oxygen- depriving Dolly jeans, and step in.
Cold. Slimy. When I look down, my toes are bloated and tinted green. Maybe the water is radioactive and I’m turning into the Hulk.
Out of the corner of my eye, I spot Harry Travis and Kellerman marching through the mall like they own the place. Harry—deﬁnitely one of the best-looking guys in our class—has dark hair, a muscular build, intense blue eyes, and the rosiest skin. He also has this sexy stubble going on— very rugged and hot. And Kellerman—everyone just calls him Kellerman—looks like he’s already part of a frat. He’s always wearing his older brother’s Pi Lambda Phi hat, and sweatpants.
I duck down so that the coolio senior duo won’t see me. That would just make today perfect, wouldn’t it? The water soaks through the knees of my jeans. Crap, crap, crap! When the guys turn in to the food court, I ﬁnd my footing and try to relocate my phone. And there it is again! Yahoo! Balanced on top of a pyramid of nickels. Got it.
Now all I have to do is safely make it back to the side...
Splat. The swirls of water push me over, and the next thing I know, I’m ﬂat on my butt. Great. Just great. My eyes start to prickle.
I heave myself up and back to the safety of the fountain’s edge, leaving a trail of shiny green droplets. I ignore my sopping wet jeans—maybe the chemicals will help them stretch?—and wipe my phone against my shirt, as if that’s gonna help. Please don’t be broken, please, please, please. I press the power button.
No sound. No connection. No nothing.
I spot Veronica staring at me. “You okay?” she hollers.
Um, no? “I’m ﬁne!” I wave, then turn back to the phone. I press power again. Still nothing. I press the one button. Nothing. The two. Nothing. Three, four, ﬁve, all nothing. Six, seven, eight, nine, the pound button, the volume button. Nothing, nothing, nothing. I kick the ﬂoor. My ﬂip-ﬂop makes a squishy sound.
I hit the power button. Again. Nothing.
I hit the nine, the eight, the seven, the six, the ﬁve, four, three, two, one, the pound button, the volume button. All nothing.
I press the send button. The phone comes alive.
There we go. I have no idea who I called, but it’s ringing.
From the Trade Paperback edition.