Monday, December 8, 2014

Magic in the Mix by Annie Barrows

Molly and Miri Gill are fraternal twins, unlike their identical older twin brothers Ray and Robbie and their identical younger twin sisters Nora and Nell.  The only difference is that Molly was originally living in 1935 when Miri traveled back in time and found her.  Both girls traveled forward to Miri's time and have lived as twin sisters ever since, and luckily, everyone has a little mind adjustment so no one except Molly and Miri remembers what it was like before Molly arrived - they remember only that she was always there.

OK, that and more is what happened in Annie Barrows's first book The Magic Half.  Now Molly has lived in the present long enough that she doesn't make too many slip ups about her former life.  But suddenly, during some house renovations, the magic comes back, the girl time travel back to 1935 again.  But why?  Then, they are also sent back to 1918 and Molly meets her real mom as a teen.  Molly's mom had died after marrying and having Molly, which is why she was living with mean Aunt Flo in 1935.  When Molly realizes that she could possibly change her mother's fate by going back to 1918 again and preventing her from meeting her future dad, she begins to believe maybe she needs to do, even though it would mean giving up Miri and her new, great life with the Gills.

Meanwhile, twins Ray and Robbie are in trouble in history class, and have to participate in a Civil War reenactment to help bring up their grade.  Turns out, the boys really like enacting the Civil War, but then they get in trouble (again) for not doing their homework, and they are not allowed to go back to the battlefield until all it's done.  So the boys try to sneak out of the house when the parents and youngest twin sisters are out.  Suddenly, Miri realizes that her brothers have time traveled back too, but to where?  When she and Molly follow them, they discover they are in the midst of the Civil War as it happened in their neighborhood.  And Ray and Robbie, dressed in Union uniforms for their reenactment, have just been captured by Confederate soldiers.

Molly and Mire can't help but wonder why all this happened?  After all, the magic is supposed to set things right, not make them more complicated.

I really thought Magic in the Mix was a very readable middle grade time travel novel that will probably have lots of appeal to young readers despite or even maybe because of the amount of Civil War history included.  The real story, however, revolves around the tough dilemma the girls are facing that would separate them for life, and on solving the mystery of what the magic needed to set right with their help in 1864, 1918 and 1935.

One of the things I liked about Magic in the Mix is the way the girls arrive right where their house is each time they travel back in time.  Barrows describes the area through Miri's observations so that the reader get a sense of time as far as how the house, the yard and the people living there change over time.  By connecting it all to the Gill family, it really shows how the past is so connected to the present (and presumably the future).

I had never read The Magic Half, so I was afraid that maybe I wouldn't really be able to appreciate this novel completely, but it really is a good stand alone story.  The reader is given just the right amount of information they need to understand the history of Molly and Miri and how they became twin sisters.

Twins are always popular in literature for young readers and they seem to be gaining in popularity these days (because there are so many more twins being born nowadays? Perhaps).  That special bond they have with each other makes the idea of twins very appealing.  Young readers don't have to be a twin, though, to enjoy this fun novel.

This book is recommended for readers age 8+
This book was an EARC received from NetGalley

No comments:

Post a Comment

Imagination Designs