cover image Turnabout


Margaret Peterson Haddix. Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing, $17 (240pp) ISBN 978-0-689-82187-5

In her thought-provoking science fiction adventure, Haddix (Just Ella) successfully shuttles readers between three different eras, convincingly covering the extensive life of Amelia (Melly) Hazelwood. At age 100, Melly and other Riverside nursing home residents were injected with the experimental drug PT-1 The drug was supposed to make them ""unage"" until they reached a self-determined ideal age, at which point they would get another shot to stop the process. The second shot, however, proved deadly, and the participants of Project Turnabout were doomed to unage until they reached zero. Now teenagers, Melly and her stubborn sidekick Anny Beth need to find parents who can care for them in their approaching infancy. But when a snooping reporter begins to track Melly, the pair must put their search on hold and flee. Haddix handles this complex plot with ease, beginning the various entries either just after 2000 or in 2085 (with flashbacks in between). Readers will likely enjoy Haddix's predictions for the future (Perfect Toothpaste replaces dentists and cars drive themselves). The reporter's transformation from hard-nosed to maternal seems a bit sudden, but Haddix keeps the pacing smooth and builds up to a surprising final face-off. Ages 12-up. (Oct.)