How to Stop Time is a thought-provoking read. Matt Haig envisions a world where a small group of individuals age at a much slower pace than the average human. While the main character, Tom Hazard, looks 41, he is actually centuries old. To avoid being institutionalized or treated as a medical research subject, Tom has moved around his entire life staying nowhere more than 8-10 years. When the book opens, Tom has decided to return to London and teach history at a local low-income high school. He is tired of constantly being on the move and wants to have an ordinary life. As his quest for a normal life unfolds, we are taken back and forth in time to learn about the many places and people Tom has experienced over his long and storied life.
I loved the history aspects of the story. In his lengthy life, Tom met Shakespeare, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Captain Cook and many others, and their encounters were so much fun to read about. Haig focuses on relationships and their importance in people’s lives. He also observes that humans are bound to repeat the mistakes of the past, a sentiment that addresses what the United States is experiencing right now. I don’t generally quote books in my reviews, but I felt that the following statement completely encapsulates what we are going through right now: “The lesson is that ignorance and superstition are things that can rise up, inside almost anyone, at any moment. And what starts as a doubt in a mind can swiftly become an act in the world.” His recognition that humans are bound to repeat the mistakes of the past is a sobering and timely statement.
I enjoyed How to Stop Time. Occasionally, I was ready for it to move along a little faster but overall it was a very entertaining read.