If I Could Turn Back Time by Beth Harbison
Would you want to go back and relive 17 again? This book is an emotional roller coaster that will definitely embed itself in your heart.
Publisher’s Description: Told with Beth Harbison’s wit and warmth, If I Could Turn Back Time is the fantasy of every woman who has ever thought, “If I could go back in time, knowing what I know now, I’d do things so differently…”
Thirty-seven year old Ramie Phillips has led a very successful life. She made her fortune and now she hob nobs with the very rich and occasionally the semi-famous, and she enjoys luxuries she only dreamed of as a middle-class kid growing up in Potomac, Maryland. But despite it all, she can’t ignore the fact that she isn’t necessarily happy. In fact, lately Ramie has begun to feel more than a little empty.
On a boat with friends off the Florida coast, she tries to fight her feelings of discontent with steel will and hard liquor. No one even notices as she gets up and goes to the diving board and dives off…
Suddenly Ramie is waking up, straining to understand a voice calling in the distance…It’s her mother: “Wake up! You’re going to be late for school again. I’m not writing a note this time…”
Ramie finds herself back on the eve of her eighteenth birthday, with a second chance to see the people she’s lost and change the choices she regrets. How did she get back here? Has she gone off the deep end? Is she really back in time? Above all, she’ll have to answer the question that no one else can: What it is that she really wants from the past, and for her future?
Possible spoilers beyond this point.
I am not sure how to express how much this book touched me. I have been sitting here at my computer wondering how to take the feelings that have accumulated in my heart and pass them along to you via the internet. You may just have to take my word on it.
Those of you who follow my writing style know that I reveal very little about the plot line of the story in my review. I feel that people want more of an opinion than a synopsis. (But that’s just my opinion.) However for this review, I will need to tell a little of the story.
Ramie is a 37 year old female on the eve of her 38th birthday. She is financially successful but is single and convinced that she doesn’t want a husband or children. After a drunken episode where she examines her life, she decides to jump off the diving board of the yacht she has rented for her birthday celebration and go for a swim. But something goes wrong, and the next thing she realizes, she is waking up in her childhood bedroom on the eve of her 18th birthday and during the last week of high school before graduation.
The character development of the 17-year-old Ramie and 37-year-old Ramie inhabiting the same body is done masterfully. You can see the struggle between wanting to be 17 and have the blinders of youth covering her eyes and the 37-year old wanting to see the truth and view her past through the eyes of an adult.
There were many poignant moments throughout this book. The first was Ramie walking through the halls of her high school on the last day of class. She looks at the hopeful youth of her classmates, but she already knows how many of their stories evolve and how some even end. I am having my 20 year class reunion this summer. On the day my class stood on the graduation stage, I felt like we had life at our fingertips. The possibilities were endless, and we only had to wish for what we wanted and we would receive it. I wouldn’t have wanted to know at that moment that my first crush would be dead a year later. I wouldn’t want to have foreseen the alcoholism that would grip a couple of my classmates, the divorces that would come for some, or the dreams that would die along the way.
The second moving moment involved the many conversations that Ramie was able have with her father that would be dead 18 months later. The wisdom and peace she gets from these talks helps her to accept his death for the first time and let go of that pain.
I could go on and on about If I Could Turn Back Time. For those out there that think Ramie will wake up in a happier future because she was able to change the past will be greatly disappointed. This isn’t a story about the mistakes of the past. This story is about accepting your past and your present and then moving forward into the one thing we can halfway control – the future. It’s about intentionally writing the life story you want written and not letting chance and circumstance decide who you will become. I think Ramie summed it up best, “I knew there was time now. That was one thing I had learned for sure. There is always time.”
3 paw prints – I would love to be 17 again. That would make me about 2 1/2 in cat years, and I would be just a demon cat of the verge of world domination. I remember all the crazy things I use to do because, of course, I still had all my nine lives. Losing a few of those makes a demon cat take life a little more seriously.
If you like this book…
- When in Doubt, Add Butter by Beth Harbison
- Angelina’s Bachelors: A Novel with Food by Brian O’Reilly