Published by Coffeetown Press on May 1, 2016
Genres: Magical Realism
Source: I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review consideration.
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Duck is 17. He will never be 18. Tomorrow is his birthday. It will never be tomorrow.Time stopped at 1:17 p.m. on a beautiful Thursday afternoon in Washington, DC. Duck is the only person moving in a world where all other living beings have been frozen into statues in an endless diorama. Duck was already in limbo, having lost his mother to cancer and his father to mental illness. Now, faced with the unimaginable, he approaches his dilemma with the eye of an anthropologist and the heart of a teenager trying to do the right thing under the strangest of circumstances. Ultimately, he realizes that while he doesn’t understand the boundaries between friendship and love, that uncertain territory may be the key to restarting the world.
Lori from TNBBC has impeccable taste in small press titles, so when she approached me about Michael Landweber’s Thursday 1:17 PM, I had to give it a whirl. This coming-of-age novel falls somewhere between YA and adult fiction, and somewhere within sci-fi and speculative fiction (more toward the latter, imho), with a touch of magical realism. That makes for an obvious “yes, please!” for me.
The protagonist, Duck, is such a great kid. He’s intelligent, has a great sense of humor and a huge heart. I couldn’t help but love him (and many times I just wanted to give him a big hug). He pens a “survival manual,” which is interspersed throughout the story. This was a really clever way to world-build, especially considering the shorter format (under 200 pages). I quickly understood how things in this frozen-in-time world worked (or didn’t). And I loved this premise. It felt like the main character was exploring a post-apocalyptic world, even though the world was totally normal…you know, other than the frozen in time thing.
The most touching moment in the story for me was the way the hospice nurse behaved after Duck’s mom died. If you’ve ever had to deal with hospice, you probably know how incredible and special they are. Landweber perfectly captured that in one very brief scene that has stuck with me ever since.
Thursday 1:17 PM was sweet, and it was devastating. Its themes are thought-provoking and tough, yet the book manages not to be a downer. There is plenty of action throughout, even humor. This was a super fast read that I read straight through: I couldn’t put it down.
Stay tuned for a guest post from the author here on the blog next week!