Sometimes Twitter can be wonderful. (How many times do we say that, eh?) However, it is possible to come across really awesome people. This happened to me when I saw a tweet from author Shanna Miles about her debut novel that was so witty and confident, I had to reply with, “That does it. I’m buying your book.” And I did.
Am I ever glad too. Miles’ novel, For All Time, drew me in with the first few lines. I hadn’t heard of the book before, which was great because I love going into books cold. I typically want to experience the story without any preconceived ideas about it. And the storytelling in For All Time is fantastic.
We meet protagonists Tamar and Fayard, two teens in Columbia, South Carolina (present day) who are finishing high school and thinking about next steps. Except for Fayard, it’s probably more about college and their relationship, and for Tamar, who is terminally ill, it’s something else entirely. The chapters read like mini-episodes, some by Tamar’s point of view, others by Fayard’s. I was hooked and wanted to know where this was going.
Then suddenly I’m whisked to Gao, Mali. But it’s the 1300s and it’s still Tamar speaking? Okay, I’m taken back to present day. Wait, what? We’re now in Maryland in 1924?
And this is when it hit me how cool this book is. Throughout these episodes, the reader follows Tamar and Fayard throughout different points of history, in other moments in time. No matter where they pop up, even within a space-opera future, these teens always find each other, and their stories draw one in. Miles reveals her skill with weaving her lead characters into fully-formed backdrops where you are immersed in these settings, even the speculative futuristic ones.
These time cycles keep happening for Tamar and Fayard, sometimes with only a faint awareness that they might have known each other before. Until one moment when they discover it’s not just dreams they have of each other—they’re remembering.
And the ending is *chef’s kiss*. I won’t spoil it here.
Without a doubt, Miles understands how to pace a story. During these pandemic years, I have had difficulty concentrating on reading, so I truly appreciated the short chapters. They were enough for me to take in, feeling I accomplished reading for the evening, and they left me excited to continue on. I know there are many folks out there who would gobble up this novel in a weekend, though. The rhythm is fantastic. No lulls.
For All Time is classified as young adult (YA), but I recommend it for anyone who used to be a young adult too!
I will keep my eye on other books from this author. So highly recommend this work.
For All Time is published by Simon & Schuster. You can find where to buy it on their website and in Canada, at Chapters-Indigo.
Cait Gordon is an autistic, disabled, and queer Canadian writer of speculative fiction that celebrates diversity. She is the author of Life in the ’Cosm, The Stealth Lovers, and the forthcoming Iris and the Crew Tear Through Space (2023). Cait also founded the Spoonie Authors Network and joined Talia C. Johnson to co-edit the multi-genre disability fiction anthologies Nothing Without Us and Nothing Without Us