The space between here & now by Sarah Suk

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This intriguing story focuses on the life of Aimee Roh, a seventeen-year-old Canadian-Korean,  ready to move into the adult world, leaving behind her often silent father and the gaping hole of an absent mother. But first she must deal with her present struggles and her past memories. Her situation is somewhat different to most of her peers because she also deals with a condition that has a sci-fi quality – Sensory Time Warp Syndrome, a condition that propels her back in time into her own memories. Unable to make changes to her past, she simply becomes a spectator in her own life, gaining perspective, but not always the answers she wants. Her ‘disappearances’ from her present life become increasingly problematic and can’t be hidden or ignored. The chance to resolve the mystery of her missing mother, and her father’s reticence to share the detail of her mother’s absence complicate Aimee’s grip on her memories and her present life. A visit to her mother’s home country in Korea seems to bring the search for understanding to a critical point, but it also gives her opportunity to find answers to her queries about her condition. It may even enable a romantic connection to develop and the possibility of the restoration of relationships.

This is an exceptionally clever YA story with a unique ‘time travel’ premise involving specific memory travel.  The development of the characters from a Canadian-Korean background and with Korean language and culture woven through the plot is delightful and wonderfully unique for Australian readers. Understanding loss and moving beyond family secrets is also part of the thread of this story. The concept of a ‘known’ syndrome created for the story, is so seamlessly woven into life that you could almost assume it was a real condition. The gentle friendship relationships that Aimee shares firstly with Nikita, and then later with Junho, are tenderly painted and the start of a romantic connection has a sweetly winsome quality. I loved the cultural journey into Korea and the setting and sensory excursion adds a wonderful warmth to the story. This is a book to recommend to those who are beginning to dabble in Sci-fi, but who also enjoy relationship and family drama or romantic realism, particularly readers aged 14 – 18 years.

Themes: Memory, Grief, Time travel, Family, Korea, Canada, Romance, Friendship.

Carolyn Hull