Books That Play With Time

Unique story-telling, cycles, death as a narrator



Other books by E. Lockhart include “We Were Liars” and its prequel “Family of Liars.”

Uma Bhardwaj, Columnist

The school year is ending, and if you’re anything like me, you’re realizing that everything is fleeting, and time is but a human creation attempting to slow our inevitable descent into death! But no, really. Time keeps moving forward– unless you like to read. So here are some books that distinctly don’t have the linear timelines our world seems so obsessed with. Books whose clocks go backwards, or sideways, or up. Enjoy.

“Genuine Fraud” by E. Lockhart. This book starts at the end of the story (with chapter 18) and works backwards, until we get back to when everything started, adding together puzzle pieces until a truly shocking picture emerges. Following a morally gray protagonist with a mysterious past, “Genuine Fraud” is breathtaking and enthralling as we learn what, exactly, the main character is running from.

“The Book Thief” by Markus Zusak. Narrated by potentially the most omniscient of narrators, Death, The Book Thief tells the story of a girl named Liesel Meminger in Nazi Germany, and all of her encounters with Death. The book spoils its own ending, so to speak, very early on. There’s none of the suspense, or element of surprise often found in novels, instead leaving readers to focus on the beautiful characters and heartbreakingly pure storytelling.

“Life after Life” by Kate Atkinson. Another WWII era historical fiction novel, but this time instead of just encountering Death, the main character actually does die. And then dies again, and again, and again. By developing her character through multiple timelines Atkinson is able to dive deeply into the ways we all make decisions, and the ripple effect that those decisions have, not just on our lives, but the world around us.