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Odessa Again: Dana Reinhardt

Book: Odessa Again
Author: Dana Reinhardt
Pages: 208
Age Range: 8 and up 

Odessa Again is a new early middle grade novel by Dana Reinhardt, who has previously published several young adult novels (including A Brief Chapter in My Impossible Life and How to Build a House) and one later middle grade novel (How I Learned to Fly). After her parents divorce, 9-1/2 year old Odessa Green-Light moves with her mother and younger brother to a rental house. In her new attic bedroom, Odessa accidentally discovers that jumping in a particular spot on the floor allows her to time travel. The first time, she goes back 24 hours. The second 23. And so on, making the time travel a limited time offer.

Odessa starts out by using this gift to create do-overs for rather mundane things (like the time she farts in front of the boy that she likes). However, she eventually undergoes a bit of personal growth, and learns to use her gift more wisely. 

Although Odessa Again is technically a time travel book, it's really much more a story of family relationships in the aftermath of divorce, and the evolution of friendships as kids get older. All presented with a very light touch. Odessa is far from perfect, but she does learn from her mistakes. Some of these mistakes are funny, while others are more painful. I found the family and friendship dynamics to be realistic, and Reindhardt writing style to be kid-friendly and humorous. Like this:

"There comes a day in the life of every big sister when it's simply no longer suitable to share a bedroom with your toad of a little brother.

For Odessa Green-Light, that day was a Tuesday." (Page 1)

and these:

 "Odessa had to admit that there were benefits to moving from a house you loves so your father could remarry someone who was not your mother, and the main benefit was that you got to have two Christmases." (Page 67)

"She grabbed her pen that was also a flashlight and crawled underneath her desk. Her father had given her this penlight. It said Clark Funds on it. She'd always wondered why Dad had given her Mr. Funds's pen, but now she was glad he did, because she'd have had a hard time finding the socket without it." (Page 96)

OK, that last bit of humor might be more for adults, but that's fine. It helps make Odessa Again a good book for families to read together. Reinhardt also sneaks in some non-didactic lessons about family loyalty, figuring out how to do what's right, and understanding that your friends aren't perfect. There are plenty of nice springboards for family discussion. Occasional illustrations by Susan Reagan help to keep the tone of Odessa Again light, and to make the book accessible to younger readers. 

Anyone who has ever wished for a do-over to fix some embarrassing or hurtful mistake will find the idea behind Odessa Again intriguing. And really, who hasn't considered what it would be like to travel back into one's own life, taking future knowledge with you? Odessa Again is a fun title that I think will appeal to middle grade readers, ages 8 and up. 

Publisher: Wendy Lamb Books (@RandomHouseKids
Publication Date: May 14, 2013
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

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© 2013 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook