A story of crisis and closeness, Mia Abernethy
June 29, 2021
Time to Remember by Janna Ruth is a classic story about not judging a book by its cover.
The book is set in modern-day Christchurch and it was a real breath of fresh air for me to be reading something I could closely relate to. Usually, I tend to read books set in America or Europe and I don’t have that chance to form a close connection with the story itself.
I really enjoyed how the author connected past events such as the Christchurch earthquakes to more modern ones such as the coronavirus pandemic. It was really nice to have something in the book that made me go “Oh I have lived through that” and by describing this moment, the author also allowed me to connect with the Christchurch earthquakes in a deeper way.
The author uses a variety of clever strategies to connect the reader to the story – something many books seem to lack. However, it took me quite a while to really get into it, as the start didn’t really capture me. But once I got going I got really interested in the book.
I particularly liked the whole theme of not judging a book by its cover. This is made especially powerful by the emphasis on crisis, a theme that is repeated throughout the story.
The two main characters have different ways of responding to the Christchurch earthquakes. One of them is shown by Natalie as the need to remember what happened so that people’s stories aren’t lost; something that seems to be very close to her heart.
However, Josh’s opinion is also a strong one. He believes that it is better off to forget the trauma of the Christchurch earthquakes and look to the future rather than rehashing the past.
Both of these unique points of view really got me thinking about which side I would stand on and whether it’s better to remember or forget.
The last thing that I wish to mention about the book is the overarching theme of not judging a person at face value. The book quickly gets into Natalie and Josh’s obvious dislike of each other and establishes a sense of tension and curiosity in the readers which the author uses to draw us into the story.
At the beginning of the book, Josh’s actions seem harsh, unnecessary and even discriminatory against Natalie when she proposes to write a commemoration of the Christchurch earthquakes.
However, once we learn Josh’s story everything changes. Up to this point in the story, we just went along with Natalie interpretation of Josh, seeing him as a jerk and quoting some words from the text a “dickhead.”
We all seem to have someone like Josh in our lives; someone we just dismiss as being mean or nasty without seeing the reasons behind their behaviour. Time to Remember makes us question whether people are generally bad or whether there is a story behind it.
Overall I loved the book and I hope Janna will write more soon.
- Mia Abernethy is 14 years old.