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If I Could Turn Back Time by Beth Harbison
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If I Could Turn Back Time

by Beth Harbison

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Showing 1-5 of 8 (next | show all)
This book was given to me by the Goodreads First Reads program.

First, the narration of this book was excellent. The reader did a good job giving life to the text, even when the text itself fell flat.

The book started out strong. Right away I felt I knew and cared about the main character. I was thrilled to listen to a book about a strong woman who was closer to 40 than to 30, who had built her own life and enjoyed it to the full. I enjoyed the ending. Even the contrived bits felt right, satisfying.

My pleasure melted away in the rest of the book. I might have forgiven it for rambling, for spelling out every single, drawn-out thought that crossed Ramie's mind, if it weren't for the 2 glaring contradictions.


Telling you what they are make for huge spoilers, so stop here if you want to come to this book fresh.












First we find out that Ramie drank so much the previous weekend that she had no idea that she'd started making out with some guy she hardly knew. Her friend had to tell her about it. That HAD to happen to make the end of the book work, as she will run into that guy later. However, totally unironically, she insists that her mom should trust her because she never drinks too much and is always careful about alcohol. This wasn't said to her mother, Ramie actually believes this to be the case when she says it, as if it is absolutely true - which it clearly isn't, given the previous weekend. The insistence on her responsibility about booze didn't have to be in the book at all - which would have prevented this contradiction that totally threw me out of the story.

But even that I could have forgiven - if it weren't for the second contradiction.

Early on Ramie tells us that her father died at work. When his secretary found him slumped over in his office, it was already too late to save him. Ramie went on to work through her guilt that he died alone; it was clearly an important part of her past.

Later in the book she explains, in poignant detail, how her father died at home, while her mother was out of town and she was out with a friend. She explains how she found him, what she did, and how she felt about it all. I really wish I could have sunk into that. Instead I was shouting at the CD player.



I'm willing to give this author another shot. She's clearly able to write good stuff. I wish she had used those skills through the whole novel. ( )
  hopeevey | May 20, 2018 |
If I Could Turn Back Time by Beth Harbison is an "if I knew then what I know now" kind of time travel book.

The writing is good but there were times when I felt Harbison had already made her point yet insisted on saying the same thing in a slightly different manner. That was probably the biggest let down in the book. Each nuanced retelling of a thought was well-written but even the superior writing couldn't overcome the deja vu effect. That said, the story was still quite good.

I think Harbison's greatest strength, in other books as well, is her characterizations. She makes her characters easy to appreciate on their own terms and, mostly, likeable. Even better than being likeable I think is that she makes them understandable. Whether I might like or dislike a character, if I can understand her then I can empathize.

Aside from the repetition of some thoughts the other stumbling block for me was what I will call the fun element. I want a character who travels back to a time we have all likely imagined going back to to have fun with it. A little less overthinking and a bit more "what the hell, go for it." I just didn't feel the fun from Ramie so I didn't have the level of fun I wanted to experience vicariously through her.

While I don't think this is Harbison's best work I would still recommend this to readers who like to ponder the idea of going into our past and re-living some moments. I do think this will appeal more to those who like the lessons learned from such stories more than the pure fun of them. But there is enough of both to satisfy.

Reviewed from a copy made available through Goodreads' First Reads. ( )
  pomo58 | Jan 2, 2017 |
This was in the fun listening category--audio read by Orlagh Cassidy. The overlapping domino effect of everything in life challenges the idea that you could go back in time and change even the smallest detail. I thought Harrison managed to make at least ME feel that the main character, Ramie, really was experiencing a time traveling experience of some sort. The author cleverly, if expectedly, pulled the sequence of things together nicely. ( )
  nyiper | Feb 21, 2016 |
Blah. Picked this one up because the premise was interesting and wanted to see the author's spin on it. Who doesn't want to go back and see what would have happened if things turned out differently?

So we get a lot of chapter time on when she goes back to being 18. Then we get pulled into going back at 25? after she changed things at 18, with realizing that she made all the wrong changes...and a short abrupt shift back to present day with the result that she was really in a short coma the entire time.

Typical, nothing new, nothing special. It would have been far more interesting to find out that the father had warped back (when she was in the 18 time period and was talking to him and trying to get him to change his ways) and was stuck in the same situation.

The ending was very abrupt and all of suddenly very "but everything will be okay now".
( )
  Schlyne | Nov 12, 2015 |
With a twist on the idea of time travel, Ramie has the chance to see what life would be like if she had made different choices in her life... But it is also a chance to get some last, needed advice from a beloved father who passed away too soon. ( )
  tjsjohanna | Oct 14, 2015 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Beth Harbisonprimary authorall editionscalculated
Cassidy, OrlaghReadersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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After a diving accident, thirty-seven-year-old Ramie Phillips is waking up, trying to understand a voice in the distance: "Wake up!" It's her mother. "You're going to be late for school again. I'm not writing a note this time." Transported back in time to the eve of her eighteenth birthday, Ramie's experience is the the fantasy of every woman who's ever thought, "If I could go back in time, knowing what I know now, I'd do things so differently."… (more)

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