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Annotation: While playing a dangerous subway prank, a fifteen-year-old slacker, who lives a comfortable life in Brooklyn, falls through a time-travel vortex and is transported to different time periods in twentieth-century New York City, where he learns firsthand about hardship.
Catalog Number: #600132288
Format: Ebook
No other formats available
Special Formats: Ebook (Subscription, 2 Years) Ebook Downloadable Downloadable
Publisher: Random House
Copyright Date: 2009
Edition Date: 2009
Pages: 272
Territory: US Only
Availability: Special Order Only - Contact Customer Service at +1 800 637-6581 or +1 217 243-5451
ISBN: 0-375-89200-1
ISBN 13: 978-0-375-89200-4
Dewey: Fic
Language: English
ALA Booklist
Fifteen-year-old Tommy Latrella is about to board his beloved New York City subway system as he runs away from home to escape the shadow of his older brother, a fireman who perished in the attacks of 9/11. But when a prank goes horribly wrong, the subway jettisons him back to 1918, where Italian immigrants take him in and fix him up with a backbreaking job building subway tunnels. Tommy faces success and tragedy, and then is thrown by a subway crash into 1932, where Depression-era struggles compel him to work for the Mafia as a money collector. It takes a third round of time travel, this one to the middle of World War II, for Tommy to realize that he won't get to return home until he starts making up for his past mistakes. It's a dizzying premise that sometimes strains credibility, but de Alcantara's obvious love for New York is infectious, especially for history buffs, and his ability to fashion gritty realism within a fantastical plot sets this thriller apart.
Horn Book
By the day I was born, April 30, 1990, I had already lived several lives.
Kirkus Reviews
Hoping to escape the shadow of his older brother, a dead 9/11 hero, 15-year-old Tommy Latrella runs away from his Brooklyn home. Instead of ending up on a bus to Las Vegas, however, he falls through a mysterious and never-explained time portal and lands in 1918. Without money or a home, he is taken in by an Italian family and works a construction job in what later becomes the NYC subway system. From 1918, Latrella (which he prefers to Tommy) falls into 1932, where he escapes homelessness as a Mafia recruit. Another portal takes him to 1942, where he enlists in the Army. Saving a friend's life brings him back to 2006. Historical details swamp the plot: De Alcantara's use of the subway as Latrella's touchstone overwhelms human character development with an alphabet soup of antique train lines. Latrella has good intentions but lacks personality, clunking back and forth in unfinished story lines with unrealistic dialogue, and the secondary characters are just paper-thin caricatures. The all-too-predictable end wraps up in a lesson about the importance of history and family. (Fantasy. YA)
School Library Journal
Gr 69 Tommy Latrella, 15, attends Xaverian High School near his home in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. He is trying to carve out an identity distinct from his idolized older brother, James, a firefighter killed in the 9/11 attacks. Skipping school, endlessly riding the subway, tagging, being a slackereverything he does aggravates his dad but gives him some feeling of personal freedom and separates him from the mindless multitudes, the "sheep" he sees all around him. Having decided to chuck it all, he buys a bus ticket to Las Vegas, but can't resist playing one last prank, which has the unintended consequence of panicking people waiting at a subway stop. In the ensuing confusion, Tommy is knocked out and wakes up in 1918. A fish out of water, he teams up with a homeless boy, gets a job digging subway tunnels, and endures heartbreak when loved ones die during the flu epidemic. Subsequent leaps forward through time take him to a Depression-era Hooverville in Central Park and working for the Mob, then forward again to World War II army paratrooper training. At each stop, Tommy learns about the city's past as well as important lessons about hard work, personal responsibility, and freedom. While the premise is not original, the narrative is compelling. Tommy is an interesting, if not at first a particularly likable, guy. The pace is quick, the Big Apple landmarks will be familiar to many, and the history, while necessarily condensed, comes alive. A fun, exciting story. Joel Shoemaker, South East Junior High School, Iowa City, IA
Word Count: 52,707
Reading Level: 4.0
Interest Level: 7-12
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 4.0 / points: 7.0 / quiz: 129062 / grade: Upper Grades
Reading Counts!: reading level:3.3 / points:14.0 / quiz:Q47150
Lexile: HL570L

Tommy Latrella is haunted by the ghost of his “perfect” older brother, who died on 9/11. Unable to live up to Jimmy’s memory, Tommy spends countless hours riding the subway and “tagging” the stations with graffiti. But when Tommy plays a dangerous prank in the Times Square station, the subway turns on him, and Tommy is hurtled back in time.

As Tommy travels, he experiences the hardships faced by the New Yorkers that preceded him, and gains perspective on his own comfortable life. But will he ever be able to get back to 2006? Tommy is desperate to mend his ways and get back home, but the trains may have other plans for him. . . .

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