Once Was A Time by Leila Sales
Published April 5th 2016 by Chronicle Books
In the war-ravaged England of 1940, Charlotte Bromley is sure of only one thing: Kitty McLaughlin is her best friend in the whole world. But when Charlotte's scientist father makes an astonishing discovery that the Germans will covet for themselves, Charlotte is faced with an impossible choice between danger and safety. Should she remain with her friend or journey to another time and place? Her split-second decision has huge consequences, and when she finds herself alone in the world, unsure of Kitty's fate, she knows that somehow, some way, she must find her way back to her friend. Written in the spirit of classic time-travel tales, this book is an imaginative and heartfelt tribute to the unbreakable ties of friendship.
*An ARC was provided by Raincoast Canada in exchange for a honest review.*
A middle-grade story about time-travel: that was literally all I needed to know about Once Was A Time to know that I had to read it. I've always loved middle-grade reads once and awhile, especially after a heavy book and/or an especially emotional one so the timing was definitely perfect to start this! Many of you are aware of how much of a big fan of time-travel I am, so i was especially excited to see what was in store for Charlotte and her best friend Kitty...
This isn't a book about time-hoping though, like one might expect (or at least, that was my initial thought) There is only one jump through time but despite that, there is a lot of talk of time travel, as well as dealing with the consequences of traveling through time. Since it's a middle-grade story, I felt there was adequate information here to make it plausible, without feeling as though the concept was being dumbed-down for a younger audience. I really appreciated that because I think it would have been easy to make things overly simple because of the target audience's age.
Once Was A Time is a story about an incredible friendship between two young girls, Charlotte and Kitty. It is a truly beautiful friendship that survives many obstacles and tragedies. It warmed my heart to see how Charlotte and Kitty loved each other and how they would do anything for one another. I wish that more YA and adult novels focused on developing friendships like these! It's so much easier to accept characters going to any lengths for their beloved friends than for a boy they just met...but hey, maybe that's just me.
I read this book in two sittings but could have easily done so in one, if life hadn't gotten in the way. I adored the references to classic books such as A Little Princess, A Monster Calls, The Book Thief and yes, even Harry Potter ♥ The main character Charlotte was sweet and resilient. The friends she made throughout time were assorted but the most memorable were obviously Kitty - but also Jake and Miss Timms. Once Was A Time was a lovely story about time-travel, love, loss and friendship that stands the test of time, as it were. The ending felt a little bit rushed though and throughout I found myself hoping for more time-travel, but that's just the geek in me taking over. The bottom line: this story is about friendships that last a lifetime.
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Stars