Reviewed by Antonella Townsend
Just when you might have thought the time travel, body exchange trope had, through sheer over use, ground itself into the nearest literary grave – it’s back. And, I loved it! Why? Well, to paraphrase William S, it’s all about hope springing eternal in young adult fiction.
In It’s Not You, It’s Me, Gabrielle Williams imagines how an unhappy childhood can be changed. For reasons I cannot fathom, Williams is able to facilitate her readers’ suspension of disbelief with seeming ease. The outcome filled this reader with unexplained optimism.
Williams has devised a clever plot that veers away from the commonplace aspects of this genre. In brief, 40-year-old Holly, an Australian living in Melbourne, finds herself in the body of sixteen-year-old Trinity Bryne. As if coping with a mid-life crisis and a pandemic wasn’t enough, now Holly is inexplicably twenty years in the past, AND not in Melbourne. Trinity lives in Los Angeles. It becomes a matter of urgency to locate the mechanism that caused this vortex in her personal time and space; she needs to get back to her own life. And Trinity isn’t thrilled, to say the least, finding herself as an Australian art teacher; in her real life, she is a member of a rock band. Whereas Holly really needs to get back in her own skin, she is conflicted because bratty Trinity’s life is so appealing compared with her own childhood. Trinity’s mother and father, although separated, are loving parents. This in itself is a revelation to Holly, her childhood was messy, even deprived, and Holly wonders about the possibility of changing the past. But that is the least of her problems as things are becoming complicated, and violent. Malevolent forces are looming but it is unclear who is the focus of their attention – Holly or Trinity.
That is where this plot synopsis ends for fear of straying into spoiler alert territory. Suffice to say I did not see that coming – but mucking about with time is never straightforward.
Gabrielle Williams has a number of highly praised Young Adult novels: Beatle Meets Destiny, The Reluctant Hallelujah, The Guy, the Girl, the Artist and His Ex, and, My Life as a Hashtag.
By Gabrielle Williams
Allen & Unwin
Paperback – B format