Fifteen-year-old Tommy Latrella is about to board his beloved New York City subway system as he runs away from home to escape the shadow of his older brother, a fireman who perished in the attacks of 9/11. But when a prank goes horribly wrong, the subway jettisons him back to 1918, where Italian immigrants take him in and fix him up with a backbreaking job building subway tunnels. Tommy faces success and tragedy, and then is thrown by a subway crash into 1932, where Depression-era struggles compel him to work for the Mafia as a money collector. It takes a third round of time travel, this one to the middle of World War II, for Tommy to realize that he won’t get to return home until he starts making up for his past mistakes. It’s a dizzying premise that sometimes strains credibility, but de Alcantara’s obvious love for New York is infectious, especially for history buffs, and his ability to fashion gritty realism within a fantastical plot sets this thriller apart. Grades 8-11. --Daniel Kraus
About the Author
Pedro de Alcantara is a Brazilian musician who lives in Paris and travels the world teaching the Alexander Technique, a method that improves habits of movement and thought in everyday activities. His first novel for young readers, Befiddled, is available from Yearling.