Teenager Kaida Hutchenson and two school acquaintances are stranded in the desert following a car accident during a class trip to the Carlsbad Caverns. The teens awaken in a parallel universe, ten days before their accident. What initially looks like home turns out to be a society where medical care has never developed. Instead, people believe, “The weak die out, leaving the strong to live and propagate.” The book moves along at a quick pace, with the heroes struggling to make sense of this new world as they find themselves increasingly in danger. Along with the nail-biting action sequences, the novel explores the developing relationships between the teenagers, who had traveled in different high school cliques before being thrust together. More importantly, it forces readers to question their own assumptions about how health care is provided or rationed in our own society. The novel is co-authored by bestselling writer Faye Kellerman and her sixteen-year-old daughter Aliza. However, long time fans of Faye Kellerman’s mysteries may be disappointed, as this book is a departure from her usual fare. There is no obvious Jewish content to the book. But, the ethical issues it raises would be excellent topics for discussion with Jewish youths either in school or in informal educational settings. In addition, Aliza’s accomplishment of creating this impressive debut novel can serve as an inspiration for other teens that enjoy writing. It is highly recommended for young adult readers, especially fans of science fiction or time travel. Ages 12 and up.
Hillary Zana has a BA and teaching credential from Princeton University. She was a day school librarian for many years and has written many Hebrew textbooks available through Behrman House Publishers. She currently teaches English and history in the Los Angeles public school system and is a National Certified teacher.