By Beth Harbison
Available now from St. Martin's Press
It's hard to remember now why I picked up IF I COULD TURN BACK TIME. I think it was the promise of time travel, which I tend to enjoy. But the blurb hints at one of my major problems with the book. IF I COULD TURN BACK TIME falls into that old pattern of successful, self-made woman figures out what she really needs is to be emotionally honest and find her soulmate.
In the end, I think IF I COULD TURN BACK TIME did some interesting things, but they tended to be too little, too late. The execution of the beginning didn't grab me. When Ramie wakes up after her disastrous 38th birthday party as a seventeen year old, she falls into a tendency to repeat information over and over as if the reader might've forgotten a detail from the previous two pages. The timeline also doesn't quite work. Ramie is clear that the first time she lost her virginity was six months after her eighteenth birthday, but that she and the guy broke up at their graduation party a few days after her eighteenth birthday.
The biggest problem is that all of the interesting stuff is rushed and crammed into the ends of the novel. IF I COULD TURN BACK TIME starts to complicate things and introduce the idea that Ramie is driven and motivated and wouldn't be happy as just a housewife having children. Her career doesn't get completely jettisoned, which I definitely appreciated, but the actual romance ended up being just a sketch of an idea after her romantic life was built up so much.
IF I COULD TURN BACK TIME has some interesting ideas, but I just couldn't get invested. Does any almost forty-year-old woman really think that her high school boyfriend might've been the one? I don't think Ramie was fulfilled at the beginning of the novel, but I was never convinced that focusing on her high school romance was a good focus for reflecting on her regrets.