Step Back in Time by Ali McNamara

jojoA perfect time-travel treat! This caught my eye on the library bookshelf and it appears this author writes specifically for me. I was delighted to see she had a couple other books right up my alley, but foolishly left them on the shelf since I was already picking up two others. Anyway, this is not only time-travel, but also romance, and laden with Beatles allusions.

Jo-Jo (yes, almost every character has a name that is from a Beatles’ song or a real person connected to the Beatles) is a go-getter accountant with not much time for fun or love in her life. She does take the time to have a cup of tea from time to time with George, the owner of a record shop that has been in the same place on King’s Road since the early 1960s. While leaving the shop Jo-Jo gets hit by a car in the zebra crossing and…wakes up in 1963.  Throughout the book she wakes up in the 70s, 80s, and 90s.  In each place she meets George (who always knows she’s time-travelling), Harry, the guy she’s falling for, and friend Ellie.  Each time she has a different job, is a different age, and manages to have a positive impact on those around her.  But each time she wonders what it is she needs to figure out for herself so that she can make it home again.

In the beginning I felt this suffered from what I call “Forrest Gump Syndrome.” That is when a character is in a time period and the author tries to stuff as many iconic things about that time period into the story, including brushes with people who will be famous (e.g., a lad buying a record and saying someday he wants to own a record shop is Richard Branson.) But I quickly got over it because you know what? It was good fun. And I liked the pattern of Jo-Jo quickly figuring out the time by assessing the tv references, fashion, makeup, handbags, etc.  It was fun that every time she went into a pub the drinks were different (and now I must know what “babycham” is and if I can get some.)  And the fact that the Beatles were so omnipresent in the story was fun because Jo-Jo herself realizes it and starts looking for those things as clues. So it wasn’t like the author was trying to be subtle (and, in fact, at the end she provides a list of every reference.)

The author also says how she was inspired by Quantum Leap, which was a tv show I loved, and yes I could totally see that.  I love time-travel but don’t often read books like this one, and I think it was really fun how she set it up.  I really enjoyed this a lot and even though her other novels aren’t time travel I’m looking forward to them too!


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