All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill
Published by Disney Hyperion on September 3, 2013
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"You have to kill him." Imprisoned in the heart of a secret military base, Em has nothing except the voice of the boy in the cell next door and the list of instructions she finds taped inside the drain.
Only Em can complete the final instruction. She’s tried everything to prevent the creation of a time machine that will tear the world apart. She holds the proof: a list she has never seen before, written in her own hand. Each failed attempt in the past has led her to the same terrible present—imprisoned and tortured by a sadistic man called the doctor while war rages outside.
Marina has loved her best friend James since the day he moved next door when they were children. A gorgeous, introverted science prodigy from one of America’s most famous families, James finally seems to be seeing Marina in a new way, too. But on one disastrous night, James’s life crumbles apart, and with it, Marina’s hopes for their future. Now someone is trying to kill him. Marina will protect James, no matter what. Even if it means opening her eyes to a truth so terrible that she may not survive it. At least not as the girl she once was.
All Our Yesterdays is a wrenching, brilliantly plotted story of fierce love, unthinkable sacrifice, and the infinite implications of our every choice.
The road to hell is paved with good intentions.
Wow. This is one of those books that I don’t feel smart enough to review. One of those books where my words don’t seem adequate to express just how good it was. I’ve never considered myself a big Sci-Fi fan, but this book changed me. I always thought I needed lush landscapes and heavy romance to enjoy a novel, but Crisitin Terrill’s writing and lyricism has truly created a piece of ART. All Our Yesterdays distills, to it’s very essence, what a good book is all about. I felt as though this book read me. I was completely absorbed by the first few pages, and the story just carried me along until it was finished. This story sucked me in, and released me feeling like a different person with no concept of how much time had passed because I was so engrossed with the world Cristin created. It’s hard for me to break this story down without giving away some key points of the plot. Even reading the back synopsis didn’t prepare me for what I was going to experience in between the pages. This book made me feel a whole spectrum of emotions, and left me reflecting on how the world works. What, in essence, is Time? If I could go back and change something, would I? My review is more about the imprint that this story left on me, and a small glimpse at the three main characters. Just trust me when I say READ THE BOOK. You won’t regret it.
” “Shh,” I say. “Everything’s all right now. Listen carefully.”
I tell her she’s beautiful and perfect and she’s going to be okay. I tell her she doesn’t need to change herself to fit in with shallow girls or to matter to someone. I tell her everything I wish I had ever known. I tell her I love her, and I realize as I say it that I love me, too.”
Out of all the beautifully woven lines in this story that painted a strong yet vulnerable psychological portrait of Em , the quote above is the one that moved things in my chest the most. I don’t know how many times I’ve looked at an old picture of myself, and thought those same things. How many times I’ve wanted to reach through to the other me in the photo and give that girl a hug and tell her she will be just fine…..Reminding myself to closely examine the choices I make now, and what I want to think when I look back on a picture of myself from the present. Em is the first person we meet in All Our Yesterdays, and I developed an instant bond with her. Cristin Terrill develops Em’s character in a way that left me feeling as if I could be that girl. I could identify with her and sympathize with her thoughts and feelings. Em is one smart chic in this novel, even when she’s internally scolding herself for being dense. She is a complex, perfectly produced character. Things haven’t turned out the way Em always fantasized they would. One moment, one fatal split second, sets into motion events that became the defining choices of her, James’, and Finn’s lives. A small crack underneath the facade of a seemingly perfect surface, fissures into life changing territory and Em is literally carrying the weight of the world on her shoulders. She shares this burden with Finn, her friend and neighbor in the cell next door.
Finn is that boy that we’ve all met before. He’s smart and funny, shy and vulnerable. He’s the one that will be there when it counts, and love you even when you’re in love with someone else. He’s the guy that will force you to be honest with yourself and see things as they really are. He’s the guy that we all almost always look back on and say to ourselves, ” He’s the one that got away.” Finn won my heart over almost instantly in this book because of his chivalry and self-sacrificing regard for Em. Something fatal and fierce brings Em and Finn close together, but something beautiful and bold is what bonds them. Finn and Em first meet in this novel through their friendship with James.
James is the perfect archetype of ugly, dorky duckling transformed to handsome, athletic swan after puberty hits. James and Em have been friends since she first learned to ride a bike, and now that they are older the lines of platonic and romantic love have started to blur. James lives with his older, politically involved brother Nate since he lost his parents at a young age. When James befriends Finn, a fellow whiz kid, this shakes up the impenetrable bond Em thought she had with James. Em and Finn get off to a rough start, but it’s perfectly played out, and foreshadows one of the best things about this novel.
The personalities that Cristin Terrill paints on the canvases of these characters left me feeling like an empath. I could distinguish with acute awareness the nuance of every vibe, thought, and emotion that they felt. Their conundrums, were my conundrums. Cristin’s pacing and sequencing of this novel are masterful. In another author’s hands, this manuscript could have been a confusing mess, but Cristin seems gifted at making the complex simple. Parts of the plot appealed to the girl in me who used to love the television show Sliders, and other parts of it appealed to my need for something psychological and deep. All Our Yesterdays has it all. Action, drama, romance, and revenge. This may be young adult fiction, but it serves as a psychological study of how key events in our lives can make us or break us. How do we let the bad experiences in our lives shape us? How thin is the line between love and hate, good and evil? How can absolute beliefs blind us, and turn us into our worst fears? A common mark of a good book (film, movie, play) is one that reaches out and touches on those primal instincts and emotions that all of us have felt at one time or another. Some aspect that makes us see ourselves as the main characters, and identify with them. This book has that connecting element. All Our Yesterdays transcends it’s genre. Now, if only I could go back and read this book again for the first time. 🙂