The Things We Miss

The Things We Miss is an evocative, affecting time-travel novel that vividly confronts the struggles of grief.

J.P. is a "generally oversized" girl who is grieving her father's death and her grandfather's cancer diagnosis. She wishes she could just "jump ahead to some future when [she] was less awkward and more confident." After a particularly trying first day of seventh grade, J.P. gets that opportunity when she finds a new door in her neighbor's treehouse. She walks through and magically time-jumps "seventy-two-hours-ish" into the future without anybody realizing. It's exciting at first, but when J.P. starts taking a "mental vacation" too frequently, and misses important events, she has to decide whether skipping the pain is worth skipping life.

Leah Stecher effectively uses time travel to insightfully examine depression in her debut middle-grade novel. She shows J.P. battling body dysmorphia, inadequacy, and low self-esteem with escapism and avoidance. J.P.'s anxiety, self-consciousness, and insecurity emanates from the page ("Was he mad about the door? Mad at his parents? Mad at me? Jealous?"), providing support for why time-jumping feels like J.P.'s only option. There aren't many bright spots in J.P.'s life, but her relationship with her live-in grandfather shines. Whether he's proudly wearing a pink butterfly knitted hat she gifted him to chemotherapy or "wringing the most emotion possible out of every moment of life," Pop Pop is J.P.'s anchor. This thoughtful, heart-wrenching speculative novel is a poignant reminder that life has "lots of uphills so you can enjoy the downhills afterwards." --Lana Barnes, freelance reviewer and proofreader

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