The Day Tripper

It takes tremendous skill to transform a sci-fi trope into an emotional tear-jerker, which James Goodhand (Last Lesson) does in The Day Tripper. In 1995, 20-year-old Londoner Alex Dean spends his days with his wonderful new girlfriend, drinking and smoking and getting ready to take his place at Cambridge. But when Blake Benfield, a bully from his childhood, confronts him, Alex decides for once to choose fight over flight. Blake completely batters Alex and throws him into the Thames. When Alex wakes up next, it's in unfamiliar surroundings and 15 years in the future. He's jaundiced from alcoholism and living a life at odds with his 1995 plans for the future. Each day from then on, he wakes up in another random day of his future, desperately trying to piece together what happened and whether he can somehow rectify his terrible mistakes. Helped by Dr. Paul Defrates, the only other person who seems to know what he's experiencing, Alex discovers how to deal with the demons of his past and what it really means to be a man worthy of respect and admiration.

Goodhand's stellar development of Alex takes readers deeper and deeper into his psyche as he transforms from a brazen young man whose only vague goal is "to be looked up to." Fully believable supporting characters buoy the narrative. The atemporal plot, posing questions about causality, adds nuance to portrayals of PTSD, alcoholism, grief, and recovery in this reluctant-time-traveler story filled with heart and hope. --Dainy Bernstein, freelance reviewer

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