Book Review: Yesterday is History

Kosoko Jackson

Rating: 4 out of 5.

published: 2nd February 2021
spoilers? no


Weeks ago, Andre Cobb received a much-needed liver transplant.

He’s ready for his life to finally begin, until one night, when he passes out and wakes up somewhere totally unexpected…in 1969, where he connects with a magnetic boy named Michael.

And then, just as suddenly as he arrived, he slips back to present-day Boston, where the family of his donor is waiting to explain that his new liver came with a side effect—the ability to time travel. And they’ve tasked their youngest son, Blake, with teaching Andre how to use his unexpected new gift.

Andre splits his time bouncing between the past and future. Between Michael and Blake. Michael is everything Andre wishes he could be, and Blake, still reeling from the death of his brother, Andre’s donor, keeps him at arm’s length despite their obvious attraction to each other.

Torn between two boys, one in the past and one in the present, Andre has to figure out where he belongs—and more importantly who he wants to be—before the consequences of jumping in time catch up to him and change his future for good.

“Make me your tether,” he says. “Think of me when you go, think of me when you want to return. I’ll be here for you. I’ll be there with you. I’ll make sure you come back in once piece. I promise.”

Galley provided by publisher

You know those books that you’re reading and enjoying, and then some way through you’re hit with the realisation that it’s going to make you cry? That is Yesterday is History.

The book opens a few months after Andre’s successful liver transplant, for which he was, surprisingly and luckily, selected from far down the waitlist. When the parents of the donor get in touch with him asking to meet, he agrees, expecting them to merely want to meet him. Instead, he is thrust into a world of time travel, an ability he now has, thanks to the liver transplant.

First and foremost, I had a whole lot of fun reading this book (up until the point it made me almost cry, but I guess that was still fun of a sort). I was completely absorbed from page one and pretty much didn’t put the book down until I’d finished.

What really drove that fun, though, was the characters, namely Andre’s relationships with Blake and Michael. You want to keep reading to find out why Andre has these abilities, sure, but you also want to keep reading to see where the semi-love triangle goes (I say ‘semi’, because it’s pretty clear what the ultimate outcome is going to be). For me, it was particularly how the relationship between Blake and Andre developed, but also (perversely maybe), how the (comparative) tragedy of Michael and Andre unfolded.

This is, really, a book about loss, in amongst its hopefulness. The reason Andre gets a liver transplant, and the associated abilities, is because of another family’s loss. And while they want to help him, he and they are still having to navigate that loss. Later on, it becomes a more personal story of loss for Andre (that sounds a little ominous, but I promise it’s not). And I loved just how the book juggled telling a story of loss and grief, and telling a story of hope too.

Despite all this, there were a couple of things I was less keen on. The setup seems a little bit forced, for me, but obviously that’s a preference thing. It worked, it just didn’t work smoothly. And then there were a couple of times when I was told things I’d rather had been shown, such as Andre ignoring Isobel, skipping school, the development of his relationship with Blake from not liking each other to being friends (which wasn’t a killer, but I really would have liked to see that). None of these things completely ruined my enjoyment of the book, of course, but I was always aware that I might have liked it even more.

So, if you were at all on the fence about reading this one, let this review convince you to pick it up because I can promise you won’t regret it.

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