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Switching Well Hardcover – April 30, 1993
All Books, All the Time
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From Publishers Weekly
A twist of magic sends Ada Bauer, a native of San Antonio, Tex., 100 years into the future, from the late 19th century to the present. Simultaneously, Amber Burak, a teenager in contemporary San Antonio, travels 100 years back, to Ada's time. Struggling to return home, each is almost lost in the social service network of the other's era. Griffin's story is especially fascinating in its exploration of changing mores and folkways. She also proves to have an exceptional ear for the conversational tics of both the 19th and the 20th centuries. Her intelligent, engaging heroines respond to their new circumstances with great resourcefulness, each discovering within herself the capacity to do good. Highly original, and a true page-turner. Ages 10-14.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From School Library Journal
Grade 5-8-- In this captivating time-travel fantasy, two girls from different centuries inadvertently trade places for several weeks. Sitting by an old well near her San Antonio home in 1891, 13-year-old Ada wishes herself 100 years into the future. Simultaneously, in 1991, Amber, another discontented young teen seated by the same well, wishes herself back in time, when, she believes, life was simpler. They both learn that no era is without its problems, and that only their nature changes. Both girls resourcefully manipulate their way through the welfare systems of the day, having adventures but longing for home. Ada is befriended by a black girl who has monumental difficulties of her own. Amber, placed in an orphanage, discovers that a friend's brother is not feeble-minded, as the teachers believe, but deaf as a result of scarlet fever. Griffin skillfully uses the dual viewpoints to compare and contrast the manners and mores of two very different time periods. The story is rich in details. Its underlying message flows freely and clearly from the plot line. Descriptions of clothing, food, the role of women and children, and societal attitudes about race and religion bring authenticity to the girls' experiences. The ending is particularly clever. Both girls are plucky, intelligent characters who are believable and easy to like. Even minor characters appear as well-developed individuals. A thought-provoking book that makes for enjoyable and informative reading, both as historical fiction and fantasy. --Bruce Anne Shook, Mendenhall Middle School, Greensboro, NC
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Top customer reviews
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This is simply one of the best time-travel stories I've ever read. It doesn't focus on carefully chopping the logic of time travel (although it doesn't commit any egregious errors), but on what it would feel like to trade in the century you live in.
Twelve-year-old Ada wants to live in the Utopian world of tomorrow. Twelve-year-old Amber wants to live in the good old days of the past. Each girl gets her wish.
Each girl discovers that things are not as straightforward as she'd like to imagine where she has gone. Each girl makes silly mistakes, adapts to her surroundings, learns to maneuver in a strange time, performs a major good deed that she is uniquely positioned to provide.
Oh, and in addition to being one of the best time-travel stories I've ever read, it's also one of the best YA novels I've ever read, and I'd recommend it to anyone who is a twelve-year-old girl, and to a whole lot of people who are younger / older / dudelier.
The quality of the book on a scale of 1-10 would be 91/2. Most of the characters are almost real. You can feel the emotions they face and the hardships they endured. My favorite character is Ada because as she experiences the modern world it is just one more discovery after another. This character is special to me because even though her father believes women are inferior she still tries to earn his respect. The author did a masterful job in development of characters. Peni R. Griffen was able to grasp my interests and hold on throughout the entire novel. As she switched off characters she would leave you with many questions such as: What about Ada? Will Amber be in trouble? etc. My favorite scenes in the book are when Ada and Mrs. Bauer hang out with each other because they were interesting. I wouldn't have made any changes. I think Peni R. Griffen's way was the only good way this novel could have been written.
From this book I learned to take nothing for granted and that you never know how important something is to you until it's gone.
A book filled with suspense and fantasy is the best book, in my mind. The only thing wrong with this one: the author never reveals what creature was in the well. Still, I would highly recomend this book for anyone who loves fantasy.