Friday, November 12, 2010

Turnabout by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Turnabout explores the themes of ageing and perpetual youth. Could we live forever? Would we want to? What if we could unage or stop aging altogether?

Turnabout tells the story of two of 50 elderly volunteers at a nursing home who are selected to participate in Project Turnabout. They will undergo a series of injections of PT-1 - a drug that caused laboratory rats to unage. The unaging process was then stopped in middle age and the rats simply stopped aging. Among the volunteers are 100 year old Amelia Lenore Hazelwood and 102 year old Anny Beth Flick. Unexpectedly, there are glitches from the beginning of the experiment. But when the second stage of the experiment fails, Amelia (Melly) and Anny decide to leave "The Agency" nursing home and live their unaging lives in freedom and quietly.

Haddix tells her story in alternating time frames. The first time frame is from a current perspective, from April 21 to June 3, 2085, as Melly and Anny try to cope with unaging from adolescence. Melly having just had her 16th birthday is becoming increasingly distraught over who will be her caretaker as she unages to babyhood. The second time frame tells the story in flashback from 2000 when the experiment was undertaken, to the present in the story which is the year 2085. So although time moves forward from 2000; instead of aging, Amy and Melly are growing younger and reliving their lives.

This book was fascinating to read because the author explores how we might feel if we had a chance to live our lives over again. The two main characters, Melly and Anny have different perspectives on this. The novel also explores the idea that when we go against our nature, disastrous things often happen.

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