Published: 31st December 2015
Publisher: Harper Collins Children
When Al Chaudhury discovers his late dad’s time machine, he finds that going back to the 1980s requires daring and imagination. It also requires lies, theft, burglary, and setting his school on fire. All without losing his pet hamster, Alan Shearer…
Thank you to Harper Collins for kindly sending me a review copy.
The quirky debut begins with a boy, breaking into the garage of his old home and continuing down into a basement where his late father has kept his time machine along with an envelope. Albert (or Al as he likes to be called) is twelve years old, living with his Mum, step-dad and step-sister who he isn’t fond of. I found that his voice came through the pages in quite a calming manner and I really did enjoy the way Ross crafted his narrative skills. From the descriptive writing to the interesting plot, I became hooked straight away.
“It’s a good thing I like my own company otherwise it could all make me quite sad.”
With instructions from his Dad, Al knows that the only way to prevent his Dad’s death is if he goes back in time and fixes things. Can he? At this point in the narrative, the only way was forward and to experiment with time. When Al meets his Dad for the first time back in the 80’s, it is brilliant – his Dad has no idea who he is or that this boy who has quickly become his friend, is actually his son from the future. When Al’s step-sister Carly gets involved, the plot (somehow) becomes even more enjoyable – is that even possible? Their awkward ‘we have to get on for the sake of our parents’ relationship transforms over one eventful evening and it was incredible to read about.
“You are at liberty to follow your heart. But that is not always the wisest option.”
When Al is trying to save his Dad’s life (the first time), he comes across a boy who does not want to be messed with: Macca, and soon enough, Al is struggling to get home, back in his regular time. You can feel like anxious vibes from Al across the page; he was frightened, worried that he’d be discovered and would never make it home. It was brilliantly tense! I liked how Ross kept me, the reader, on my toes – the plot was changing from different time eras and before you could blink, something else had happened.
“And that’s when we hug. The longest, hardest, most intensest hug of all time.”
The ending was just… Well, you’ll have a lump in your throat because it’s just utterly beautiful. The plot closes on a really lovely note and you can’t help but think that all that time travelling was worth it. Everyone knows that we can’t change what happened in the past but we can very easily change our future. I think both Ross and Time Travelling With A Hamster do a brilliant job of speaking about that. It was a truly remarkable debut novel, full of important life messages which will make you think once the final page has been read.