Title: Shine Until Tomorrow
Author: Carla Malden
Publisher: Rare Bird Books
Genre: Teen/young adult fiction, Contemporary, Science Fiction – time travel
Book format: Digital
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Description:  Social misfit Mari Caldwell desperately wants to get on with her life. If only she could get there faster–specifically to Yale–and leave behind all the things that make her anxious: driving a car, crossing bridges, her peers, her parents’ divorce. Mari only feels at ease behind the lens of her vintage Leica. Her camera keeps the world–and the people in it–at a safe distance.
When Mari comes across an old scrapbook of her mother’s, she discovers her white collar parents were once blue denim hippies. She ends up fighting with her mother and storming out. She pedals her bicycle into a downpour, swerves to avoid an oncoming jeep, and flies smack into a tree. Mari climbs into an abandoned VW van bearing the ghost of a psychedelic paint job, and passes out.
The next morning, Mari wakes up to the sound of music. A young couple wander through the glen like hippie gypsies, playing recorder and tambourine. Mari accepts their offer of a ride into San Francisco. But something is wrong; Mari can’t quite figure out what. The skyline, her father’s address, the music on the radio. Everything is slightly off. Except Jimmy, the driver of the van. There’s something about him that calms her inner chatter. Only after she says good-bye to the merry band and runs headlong into a war protest does Mari being to realize: it is June, 1967. *
A fun and touching novel about the people who raise us, the times that define us, and the stumbling blocks on our way to being a grown-up, Shine Until Tomorrow tells the story of a girl obsessed with the future who must visit the past to learn to live in the present.

*Free copy provided by The Busby Group and the publisher for review…

Review:  Oh how I have enjoyed this story so much!  It is just the perfect story with a time travelling twist. Mari Caldwell is a successful student at school in everything but photography. When her teacher gives her an incomplete and tells her to take a better portrait photo over the summer break, it’s the first in a string of things that go wrong for her. Later, having decided to go to a party with her friend, even though she doesn’t really want to, Mari searches her mother’s closet for a top to wear. But when she pulls down on a sleeve from the top shelf she brings down several boxes that were piled there, revealing some old sixties memorabilia of her mother’s. But soon her mum sees the mess and argues with Mari, causing Mari to storm out of the house, alone. Cycling while angry in the rain results in Mari having an accident, and finding herself badly hurt she decides to climb into the seat of a random vehicle she finds abandoned on the roadside, but when she wakes up things aren’t the same and it’s not a question of where she is but when.

I have really enjoyed this story so much that I just couldn’t put it down the moment I started reading! Mari is a character I instantly liked (reminding me a bit of myself as a teenager) as she’s a little awkward socially, rambling too much when she doesn’t know what to say to people, but also having a deep passion for photography. The story begins with Mari narrating a terryfing recurring dream she has about driving before moving on to show us a bit of her teen life. Mari isn’t one of the popular girls at school but she has her best friend and her love of photography to keep her happy, which is a big part of the story. Once she gets home we find out more about her home life and it isn’t all that great with her parents who are divorced having little time for her. It’s anger at this that triggers Mari to storm out of her home after arguing with her mum, and once she has an accident she wakes up to what seems like the past, with hippie people coming to her aid.

I love how this story unfolds, Mari’s argument with her mum and what she finds at the house prior to her storming out give a hint to the world Mari soon finds herself in and I love how she isn’t convinced, at first, that she really has gone back in time to the 1960s. Her first encounter with Sam and Jennifer was very funny and I love the way that modern things like her mobile phone were explained with Sam assuming it was all something to do with the government. The exchange between the three is good and funny and I was soon really enjoying her encounter with the others who were all picked up in the van, especially the driver Jimmy.

There are some very funny moments in the story with both Mari’s awkwardness, often rambling far too much to the point that nobody understands her, and lots of other funny things which made me laugh including the explanation of the paint colours for the house, and Mari’s exchanges with various characters especially when she mentions coming from the future!  Most of the story focuses on Mari and the band she meets. Sam and Jimmy are two members of a band and it’s this band who are trying to become a success that most of the story is focused on. All of the charcters felt well developed to me and I love how different they all are, even Nina.

Mari eventually ends up getting to know what can only be described as the hippier part of the sixties. I do like how a lot of this was portrayed, focusing mostly on the positive aspects of the this hippie era but still making a point of showing some of the darker sides of it too. I cannot say for sure whether this is what the sixties in San Francisco was really like, but something about it just felt so right and it kept me constantly interested in reading on! I like the relationship that develops between Mari and Jimmy and what ends up happening. Later when it’s clear things have to go a certain way, I like the way this was done and resolved, and I like the maturity with which Mari seems to have grown into.

Despite the fun time travelling tale, this book is also clearly a coming-of-age novel and a good one in my opinion compared to some I’ve read. How Mari copes and grows throughout the story is nice to see, and even though there is the fun aspect of travelling backwards in time and all the funny things that can happen with that, it’s also a story about Mari growing from a girl who used to feel awkward socially, a little angry at life and used to use a certain way of talking with sarcasm to not get close to people, to a girl who becomes more mature, self-assured, and also more confident in her photography, and in her family life, in a way she wasn’t before.  I really like the way this story finishes and it just felt good from start to finish.

There are quite a few fun twists in the book, especially towards the end when we find out several things that are linked back to something we saw earlier in the book like the vinyl and pictures that Mari finds at the start.  I like how these things suddenly dawned on me and I have to say I gasped a few times as it was brilliantly done and clearly surprised me!  Unfortunately there a couple of time-travelling inconsistencies I spotted to do with what ultimately happens with the camera and also with the bus in the early part of the story, but these don’t detract from the story and you’d probably only think about them if you’re a bit of a time-travelling sci-fi geek like me! (I seriously love to debate time-travel in all books and films! 🤪) 🙂

The ending is good and satisfying and I love what happens with Mari in the epilogue too which made the whole story and Mari’s journey feel like it ended perfectly. The book has a few uses of the f and s swear words but not very often and there’s nothing else that I’d consider difficult or offensive to read.  This really is a story I have loved reading and I’m so glad I read it despite seeing some negative reviews when I first was offered the chance. ‘Shine Until Tomorrow’ is the perfect time travelling story and I just love how the 1960s are represented and how positive most aspects of the story are. There are some moments that a touch predictable, such as what happens with Royce and the overall way all the characters ended up, but there were so many moments I wasn’t expecting too and I just loved how this story was so compelling and left me feeling so happy when I finished reading it!

The idea of time travel in a story is one I have always loved and although I’ve read some reviews complaining that the characters don’t seem like real teenagers, to me Mari reminded me of myself as a teen, and because of that this book has been the perfect read for me and one I know I’ll want to re-read again! Maybe it’s because I feel a connection to the socially awkward Mari, or maybe because I love the thought of travelling to the past and the general mood of the sixties, or maybe it’s just the fact that there are some great twists in the story especially near the ending, but something about this story just made it so perfect for me and it’s one that I’d recommend to anyone who loves a story that features time travel and focuses on the more positive aspects of the hippie 1960s.

 

* There is a section of blurb/description I omitted above as I felt it has a spoiler about one character in particular (it spoilt it for me to know something before reading the book) so I wanted to omit it but here it is if you don’t mind that 😉 :
‘In the epicenter of the Summer of Love, Mari makes friends with the would-be rock band, meets the grandfather she never knew, and falls in love. In spite of herself, Mari discovers that love changes everything. It even changes her.’

-Shine until Tomorrow is published today!


What do you think of this book?  Do you like time travelling stories?  What about the hippie sixties?  Let me know what you think in the comments below 🙂