Anna is a 16-year old living in Evanston, Illinois in 1996. Bennett is a 16-year old time-traveler who exists in San Francisco in 2012. At the beginning of the novel, a woman (whom we can easily presume is 32-year old Anna) goes to Bennett in San Francisco and gives him a letter. As you can already tell, this is a love that will be fraught with problems.
Anna and Bennett meet for the first time in 1996 when she sees him appear and disappear on a track (Anna’s a runner). He tries to stay away from her, but he can’t. It doesn’t help that he knows that she must be the Anna from the letter, or that he’s not actually there to meet her.
For the first hundred pages of Time Between Us, I kept thinking, “Oh, this just seems like the YA version of Time Traveler’s Wife.” It started out pretty slow for me, and I didn’t feel like I connected with Anna, who seemed very ordinary compared to her fun, sassy English friend Emma or her music-loving buddy-who-wants-to-be-more Justin.
But then Bennett shows up, and Anna starts interacting with him, and yes, time-traveling with him and falling in love with him, and I realized that maybe that was the whole point. Anna *is* normal, but she’s also adventurous and loyal and rash and beautiful. She’s not the most popular or out there girl – but she’s strong and independent and pretty awesome.
Bennett was really well done as a character as well. He was cute, of course, but he also felt very real and masculine. He’s funny and charming, but also aloof. And he gets that he’s got a pretty awesome gift, but he sometimes doesn’t think before abusing it. He’s just as much of a doofus as I remember 16-year old boys being, but he’s also just as passionate and sweet as a teenage boy can be. Anna really has to slap him down a few times. =)
Tamara Ireland Stone also didn’t give us the short shrift with the secondary characters – Anna’s parents are fully realized characters who are overly concerned with their daughter’s safety. Emma and Justin are awesome sidekicks who never feel like they are there in service to the plot even though they were – to an extent – a big part of how Anna and Bennett’s relationship develops.
90s music: Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Phish all play a big part in the novel.
Heart-squeezing romance: The kissing. The rock-climbing. The souvenirs. Bennett’s hair. Squee!
Travel: Anna goes to so many awesome, deserted places that I now want to go.
The Final Word:
This is one of the most gorgeous romances I read in 2012. For me, Time Between Us is what The Time Traveler’s Wife should have been. Anna and Bennett’s romance was just as lovely and instant as the romance in Audrey Niffenegger’s bestseller, but Tamara Ireland Stone takes it one step further and allows us to experience the actual joys of time travel. For me, that’s what the former novel was missing – here, we get to see both the bad and the good of time travel explored fully.
I really loved Time Between Us, and I can’t wait for the sequel that the author says is coming!