But Not Forever

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Emma, from 1885, and Sonnet, from 2015, are identical in almost every way and suddenly trade places in the stunning But Not Forever. When their worlds collide, they find themselves out of their own time and in a whole new world. Sonnet lives in the shadow of her stunning sister. Emma has a mother who dotes on her younger brothers and treats her as if she shouldn’t exist. As Sonnet turns to surprising allies for help to find her way home, she uncovers shocking family secrets and discovers a surprising romance. In the 21st century, Emma finds the freedom she’s always wanted as Sonnet’s friends take it upon themselves to teach her how to fit in and to solve the time-travel mystery. When Sonnet is threatened to be sent away, they have one chance to return to their original times or they’ll be stuck in their new time forever.

Romance and humor blend into family drama and time travel fun as Jan Von Schleh explores the past, balancing two vastly different timelines. Von Schleh has a keen eye for the details of the past, capturing the family and social dynamics with ease, as well as every little detail of Emma’s proper attitude and personality. Clever wit and humor is woven through both voices, as Emma and Sonnet each have to learn about their new worlds, and throughout these worlds learn about each other. The writing is stunning as Von Schleh perfectly stays in tune with each of their voices. It’s always clear which one is speaking through their personalities and the proper way Emma acts.

They have separate, but equally touching, journeys, finding a part of themselves through the other one’s life. Emma gets to explore a modern world where she discovers the freedom she’s always wished for. Though it’s the love and affection she receives from Sonnet’s aunt that really pulls her into this world. She’s never had affection like that from her own mother, so this is the first aspect to really ground her. This balances out to Sonnet’s storyline, where she’s placed into the suffocating life Emma left behind, but it’s her role in the past that plays a significant part in how a large mystery unfolds. At the heart is a story of family, exploring the two different family dynamics. Sonnet’s parents aren’t involved in the story, but the presence of her friends and aunt play a key role in what allows Emma to be herself. They pull her out of her timidness and allow her a chance to shine. Emma strives to find the love that Sonnet has, and, in her own way, she does. Sonnet forms her own support system through the bonds she makes with Emma’s nanny, Kerry, Emma’s fiance, Tor, and the mysterious Maxwell.

The time-traveling aspect is unique in how it’s portrayed, using Emma’s house as the catalyst for their switch. It gives the house a mystical and slightly ominous quality, as well as a personality that turns it into another character in the story. The descriptions of their transition to and from the separate timelines are stunning, as Von Schleh always maintains an air of mystery. Romance plays a key role, as Sonnet has a flirtation with Rapp before getting sent into the past, where she’s placed into the romance that Emma left behind. The romance is sweet and perfectly suited to both of Emma and Sonnet’s personalities with a certain amount of innocence to it that maintains the feeling of first love, fitting with the tone of the story. But Not Forever is a stunning coming-of-age journey that keeps the page turning with every stunning moment.

Reviewed By:

Author Jan Von Schleh
Star Count /5
Format Trade
Page Count 312 pages
Publisher SparkPress
Publish Date 2018-Jun-12
ISBN 9781943006580
Bookshop.org Buy this Book
Issue April 2018
Category Young Adult


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