In this fast-paced young adult mystery, Printz Honor winner Sally Gardner brings London to life as she explores crime, poverty, and ignorance over the span of almost two centuries, as a young man is given the opportunity to go back in time in order to make sense of the present.
A fresh start is what he needs. Will he find it in the past or the present?
AJ Flynn has just failed all but one of his major exams, and at almost seventeen years old, he sees a future that’s far from rosy. So when he’s offered a junior clerk position at a London law firm, he hopes his life is about to change—and it does, but he could never have imagined how much.
While on the job, AJ finds an old key labeled with his birth date, and he’s determined to find the door it will open. When he does just that, AJ and his group of scrappy friends begin a series of amazing journeys to the past—1830, to be exact. And they quickly realize that hardship, treachery, and love haven’t changed too much in almost two hundred years.
When they discover a crime that only they can solve, the boys go from wayward youths to intrepid young men with a purpose in life. But with enemies all around, can they unravel the mysteries of the past before the past unravels them?
A.J. Flynn's future looks bleak: his grades are less than desirable, his home life is rocky, and his friends Leon and Slim are always in and out of trouble. When A.J. is offered a job as a junior clerk at a London law firm, things take a turn for the extraordinary. Finding a peculiar key labeled with his name and birthday leads 17-year-old A.J. to a nondescript door that transports him to 1830s London, where secrets about his paternity and family history are revealed. But the magic of time travel is tempered by murders in the past and in the present, as well as the harsh realities of the lives of A.J. and his friends. A.J., Leon, and Slim begin Gardner's novel as boys from whom society expects nothing but trouble, but when they are presented with an opening to make something of themselves, they seize it, powerfully illustrating the good that can come out of opportunity and second chances. Skillfully blending time travel, intrigue, and social commentary, Gardner (Maggot Moon) delivers a thought-provoking page-turner. Ages 12 up.