Sharing the joy of children’s books

It Wasn’t Always Like This


It’s Teenfunked Thursday and today we welcome a new reviewer to Gobblefunked, 19-year-old Megan O’Connor. Here, Megan checks out Joy Preble’s It Wasn’t Always Like This

It Wasn't Always Like ThisAs a history nerd, I was excited to get a chance to read this book; I had heard many things about it and the hype and my expectations were rising.

In It Wasn’t Always Like This, we follow a girl called Emma O’Neill. It’s 1916 and in an attempt to achieve immunisation from a horrible polio virus that is circulating, Emma’s family and their business partners – the Ryan’s – brew a homemade tea from a plant found in a nearby lake.

Cut to a year later and they find that their youngest child in the house hasn’t aged. Some how, he is still the same two-year-old toddler he was when they all drank the tea. They seen discover they have have stumbled on a fountain of youth. Fast forward again, this time to the present day, and a religious group – the Church of Light– has discovered Emma and her family’s secret. When her family is murdered and she is separated from her love, Charlie Ryan, the only surviving member of his family, Emma starts to investigate a series of murders of young women who seem to have a great resemblance to her …

I really enjoyed all of this book. However, I had some reservations about the writing style and technique. Although I did warm to it in the end, I wasn’t sure how I felt about it at the beginning.

I really liked the alternating chapters in the book; the present day and what life was like for the O’Neills and the Ryans in 1913-1916.

This story is also told from multiple perspectives, with Emma as the main narrator. I was on the edge of my seat to see how life had played out for her love Charlie. I really liked all of the characters in this novel which really surprised me. Although some characters had bad streaks and there were villains, they were portrayed brilliantly.

I thought Emma was a very good main character. She was put through a lot in her long life-time, and I liked the mentality she adapted regarding people and locations. I also liked how she stayed to investigate the murders of the young girls and the disappearance of her friend Coral, instead of running because she is the target.

Overall, I really enjoyed this story, it was short and a quick read and I highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in reading a historical fiction.

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About the author

Megan O'Connor

19-year-old sociology and philosophy student Megan O'Connor is an avid reader with a particular interest in fantasy, historical fiction and contemporary books. She's dabbled in writing herself and would love something to come of it one day.

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