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Time Apart

Time Apart

4.5 6
by Diane Stanley

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Without warning, Houston teenager Ginny Dorris is packed off to England to join her father in a university experiment -- a re-creation of an Iron Age community -- while her mother recovers from a serious illness. Ginny copes with unimaginably primitive living conditions and longs to go home, but gradually she is drawn into the community's life and discovers resources


Without warning, Houston teenager Ginny Dorris is packed off to England to join her father in a university experiment -- a re-creation of an Iron Age community -- while her mother recovers from a serious illness. Ginny copes with unimaginably primitive living conditions and longs to go home, but gradually she is drawn into the community's life and discovers resources that neither she nor her father knew she had. This fast-paced yet thoughtful coming-of-age story is based on a real-life Iron Age experiment.

Editorial Reviews

Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
Stanley uses her fascinating and original setting to good effect.
Kathleen Odean
Thirteen-year-old Ginny Dorris, who has rarely seen her father over the years, suddenly must leave Texas and join him in England, while her mother undergoes cancer treatment. Because her father is part of a yearlong university experiment to duplicate life in the Iron Age, Ginny finds herself living in starkly primitive conditions, grinding grain into flour, cooking in a stone oven and living in one large structure with fifteen other people, mostly adults. Although she worries about her mother, Ginny grows to appreciate her new accomplishments, the slow pace of life and the strong sense of community among the participants. This is an engrossing, informative novel about a sympathetic adolescent.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In her first novel, consummate picture-book biographer Stanley (Joan of Arc) proves she is virtually as adept at creating fictional characters as she is at chronicling the lives of real people. Her premise here sounds complicated and even contrived; to her credit, it unfolds with ease. When Ginny's mother is diagnosed with breast cancer and faced with treatment, the 13-year-old is hastily shipped out from her home in Houston to England to join her professor father--long divorced, he has had little contact with Ginny. Her father is helping head up an experimental archeology project: he and various colleagues and volunteers have re-created an Iron Age village. Ginny is handed homespun clothes, advised to brush her teeth with a hazel twig and thrown into community life. Intelligent and compassionate, Ginny finds ways to cope with the deprivations, both material and emotional. Stanley makes the Iron Age-related challenges (such as finding the right clay to make cooking pots) as compelling as Ginny's emotions, and the protagonist always seems lifelike. The only missteps come when Ginny runs away from the project--it's hard to suspend disbelief when she, shoeless, penniless and clad in her bizarre clothing, finds her way safely to her dad's vacated London apartment. This sequence aside, the novel gives readers a chance to savor exotic experiences along with the challenges of coming of age. Ages 10-up. (Sept.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature - Sharon Salluzzo
When Ginny's mother is diagnosed with breast cancer, their life together in Houston is shattered. She sends Ginny to London to stay with a father she hardly knows. To make matters worse, he is in charge of a university project, an Iron Age farm. With little correspondence from her mother and trying to adjust to life without modern conveniences, Ginny also finds communication with her father difficult. Readers will empathize with Ginny and celebrate her achievements on the farm. However, they will understand her need to run away from the farm and return to Houston to learn more about her mother's condition. Her mother's cancer treatment is dealt with in a realistic manner. Filled with fascinating details of Iron Age living, and a realistic treatment of Ginny's mother's cancer, this story is certain to pique the readers' interest. Unfortunately, the story becomes entangled by too many themes, and there are too many characters, some of whom are very one-dimensional.
School Library Journal
Gr 5-8-Best known for her picture-book biographies, Stanley shoehorns more story ideas into her first novel than it comfortably holds. When her divorced mother is diagnosed with breast cancer, 13-year-old Ginny suddenly finds herself en route to England, where her uncommunicative, seldom-seen father is helping to run a reconstructed Iron Age settlement. Though she adapts readily to the homespun clothing, hard labor, and near total lack of modern amenities, her mother's rare and uninformative letters leave her in anguished suspense. Finally, she sneaks off to London, makes her own way back to Houston, and, after her father catches up, gets an ugly eyeful of her once-robust mother in the midst of heavy chemo. Then, it's off to England for several more months, until her mother is well enough to take her back. Competent, sensible, and wiser than either of her parents, Ginny makes an admirable protagonist, capable both of raising the primitive community's culinary standards and of convincing her mother and father that she doesn't need to be sheltered from the family ordeal. The unusual setting, and several sharp emotional climaxes, will engage readers, but all the comings and goings leave too little room to flesh out the supporting cast, and the author only fitfully succeeds in making the dangers and discomforts of Iron Age life palpable.-John Peters, New York Public Library Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Her mother's cancer surgery and anticipated follow-up treatment is the catalyst for Ginny's trip to England, where she will live with her professor father, Hugh; she hasn't seen him in a year, and hasn't lived with him since her parents divorced. Ginny expects to be roughing it with Hugh on some kind of camping trip, but it turns out that Hugh is the leader of an experimental archaeology project; he and several others have re-created an Iron Age village and attempt to live as the villagers would have, growing their food, making tools and clothes, and sleeping in rudimentary shelters. Ginny is appalled at first but soon enters into the rhythms of the days there. Readers will be fascinated by the details of life there, but Stanley's first novel begins to labor when Ginny runs away. Dirty, dressed in her Iron Age clothing, shoeless, and moneyless, Ginny finds her way to Hugh's London home, and uses one of his credit cards to book a flight. Hugh locates her in Houston, and escorts her back to the settlement to finish out her stay while her mother continues to recover. The specifics of the Iron Age experiment are compelling, but the ending, as hasty in its pacing as the set-up was leisurely, is disappointingly feeble. (Fiction. 11-14)

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.12(w) x 7.62(h) x 0.54(d)
Age Range:
10 Years

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

When Ginny arrived at London's Gatwick Airport after an eight-hour transatlantic flight, her father was not there to meet her. She was thirteen years old, and her sole preparation for emergencies was one hundred dollars in American bills and a fist of telephone numbers. She had not wanted to make this visit, much less make it by herself, but she was under the impression that her father was looking forward to it. At the very least she had expected him to show up.

She looked at the crowd gathered on the far side of the customs barrier. Some of them seemed quite excited, waving and cheering as they spotted their friends. None of their faces looked familiar. Ginny wondered, with mixed hope and dismay, whether she had merely forgotten what he looked like.

As the crowd began to thin, she noticed several people holding signs, a few of them crudely hand-lettered. One said VICTORIA TOURS and was held at chest height by a bored-looking man who gazed vacantly into the middle distance. Off to the left she spotted another man, with dark, bushy hair and protuberant eyes magnified by thick, rimless glasses. He was looking straight at her in a curious, froglike way. He was holding a sign too, and it had her name on it.

She headed in his direction, trailing her little black suitcase. "I'm Virginia Dorris," she said.

The young man smiled and took her bag, introduced himself as Roger, and explained that he had been sent to pick her up by someone named Maurice. This worried Ginny because she had no idea who that was.

"I was supposed to meet mydad," she said.

Roger continued smiling; it seemed to be his one expression. "Your dad couldn't get away," he said. "Maurice said he'd take you out there. This way!" Confident that she would follow, he strode off toward the exit. After all, he had her suitcase.

"But I don't know him -- Maurice," Ginny insisted, trotting alongside Roger as he briskly wove his way through gaps in the crowd, expertly steering around cartloads of luggage.

"Dr. Everett," he called over his shoulder. "Maurice Everett." When Ginny still showed no sign of understanding, he added, "Head of the department -- you know? -- your dad's boss."

"Oh," said Ginny. She had never heard his name before. That would be the man who had designed the Iron Age project from which her father "couldn't get away."

"I'm just going to be there for a little while," she said.

Back home in Houston her mother would be asleep. Ginny pictured her curled up under her beautiful Nantucket quilt, with its soft fabric and faded colors.

Then she realized with a pang that her mom might not be at home, after all, but at the hospital. Was the surgery today or would it be tomorrow? Why hadn't she gotten all that straight? There had been so much to take in all at once.

Over the span of a mere two days Ginny's normal, routine life had been brought to a screeching halt, and she had been packed off to her father in England. For at least half that time her mother had been on the phone.

Ginny had felt the storm brewing even before it struck. She could tell by the flat expression on her mother's face, by the tone of her voice -- strained, half-whispering -- as she talked on the telephone. "Can I call you back on this?" she had said. "I really have to make some arrangements." When Ginny asked what was going on, Rena had said, "I'll tell you about it later," and started dialing again.

Ginny woke up in the middle of the night to the sound of her mother's voice, still talking on the telephone. Checking her bedside clock, Ginny saw it was three-fifteen. She padded down the hall, stood outside her mother's door, and listened. "Yes, that's right," her mother was saying, her voice sounding almost frantic. "Rena Dorris. Calling from the U.S. Yes, I absolutely do have to talk to him today." There was a pause, then, "I understand, and I very much appreciate your going to the trouble, but it really can't wait." Ginny went into her mother's room and sat on the bed, pulling the quilt up over her legs.

When Rena finally hung up, she scooted over beside Ginny and took her daughter's hands, stroking and massaging them as she focused her thoughts. "I'm not ignoring you," she said finally, "though I know you think I am. I just wanted to get things worked out before explaining it all."

"I want to hear it now," Ginny said.

Maurice Everett's office was on the ground floor of an old building. The windows were open, and the soft drone of a distant lawn mower floated in on the air. Papers on the low bookcase under the window rustled in the breeze.

Dr. Everett was a large, sleek man, his rosy cheeks shiny, his salt-and-pepper beard as fine as silk. Ginny wondered if he blow-dried it.

"Ah, Virginia!" He greeted her heartily, leaning back in his chair and smiling. "Thank you, Roger."

"No problem," Roger said. Then: "I have the clothes in my office. Do you want them now?"

"Yes, please," Dr. Everett said. Roger ducked out.

"There's a ladies' just down the hall, so you can change in there," he told Ginny. "Then we we'll be on our way. You can leave your things here."

"Can't I just wear what I have on?" Ginny asked.

Dr. Everett's laugh told her she had asked a stupid question. "No," he said. "I assure you -- Iron Age people did not wear clothes like that."

Roger returned with a pile of homespun garments draped over his arm. He showed them to her piece by piece...

A Time Apart. Copyright © by Diane Stanley. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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Time Apart 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
Reality TV show fans will enjoy this. Wow so many elements of this book were fantastic- the touching scenes, the deep thinking, the description, the tidbits about iron age life, and Ginny's resourcefulness. This is a really unique book. I had heard about the iron age project awhile ago, so I was very excited to read this book. It went beyond my expectations. This book was quickly moving, but at the same time, emotionally moving. The end scene with Ginny and her father stayed with me. A Time Apart really puts modern technology into perspective and shows that it has little to do with happiness. It was amazing how in the book, the Iron Age Project inhabitants were unscathed during the snow storm. They simply stayed in their roundhouses by the fire and told stories. But the modern day people could not continue their normal routinue without their ovens and electricity. This is much better than most time travel books, because it is very realistic, yet still interesting to read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was okay, but there's something about the style of writing that is annoying. It almost sounds as if the author is trying to make her writing have everything that a good book needs, and doesnt let it flow into the plot naturally, although I think that most people don't understand what I'm saying.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A really sweet, aand touching story. A really good book!
Guest More than 1 year ago
A Time Apart is a wonderful book about a 13-year-old girl named Ginny who has to adjust living Iron-Age-style with a dad she's never known and her mother across the world with cancer. I really like the way this author expresses Ginny's feelings, and I enjoy sharing the times she has with the new friends she makes.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A Time Apart is a great book. When Ginny's mother (Rena) learns that she has cancer, Ginny is shipped off to England to live with her father (Hugh). All that Ginny knows is that her father is taking part in a project that will hopefully discover things about the period in time called the Iron Age. What she doesn't know is that she, too, will participate in the project. Ginny is not pleased with the situation in which she will have take part in the community that is created to duplicate a village in the Iron Age. Soon she learns to enjoy the experience, and makes many friends (including Corey and Daisy) and memories there. Ginny even gets to know the father who had been absent from most of her life. This is an excellent book which I can almost 100 percent guarantee you will enjoy. I assure you that this book won't disappoint!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a book I would recommend. Based in modern times, Ginny's mother is faced with cancer. Now Ginny must go to an archealogical site where her father is working. It is set in Iron Age times. They have to do things like they did back then. When Ginny sets on her journey home, it becomes very suspensful. I think that this is a great book that you should read.