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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Look from the Bottom
There are few speculative fiction works that have a person of color as their central character, possibly the result of the fact that the great majority of sf writers are white. This is a very nice exception to this general picture.

Genna is a modern-day 15 year old living in the slums of New York. She's intelligent, ambitious, determined to go to college and...
Published on 26 Jan 2010 by Patrick Shepherd

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Impassioned and enlightening
Zetta Elliott's tale of an American teenager who time-travels back to 19th century Brooklyn, when black people were still slaves, is emotionally affecting and educational. The author sets out the difficulties in Genna's two lives quite well, and the different pressures black people found themselves under then and now. I do find Genna's motivations and feelings to be...
Published on 2 May 2011 by elmsyrup


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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Look from the Bottom, 26 Jan 2010
By 
Patrick Shepherd "hyperpat" (San Jose, CA USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: A Wish After Midnight (Paperback)
There are few speculative fiction works that have a person of color as their central character, possibly the result of the fact that the great majority of sf writers are white. This is a very nice exception to this general picture.

Genna is a modern-day 15 year old living in the slums of New York. She's intelligent, ambitious, determined to go to college and leave the slums behind, and works hard at making that plan come true. But she's also shy, has typical teenage concerns about her looks and whether she can attract a boy who can understand her, and has a rather dysfunctional family whom she feels obligated to help. She also has real trouble understanding those people for whom `black' is synonymous with `trash', and chafes under the unwritten rules of our society that say that blacks can go this far, and no further, and are not admissible to the upper ranks of society.

All this is presented in the early sections of this book, and forms a very good character study, along with a well-painted picture of just what life is really like in the ghetto. But then she is magically transported back to the New York of 1863, where she is taken for a runaway slave, and where every aspect of this society places her not just at the bottom of the heap, but buried under a mountain of class and permissible action restrictions, where racism is not a dirty word, but the accepted norm of the day, except for a very few who are fighting to change that status quo. Genna's adaptation to this new world is adroitly done, though I did feel in spots that she, due to her modern-day perspective and attitudes, would have been more prone to make unacceptable mistakes in actions and words that would have netted her even more punishment than what is actually shown. But the world of this time is very nicely shown, more between the lines than by actual exposition, as we only see it from Genna's viewpoint. It's a world that will seem quite alien to people of today, and provides both a great perspective of just how much has changed in terms of race relations and just how much attitudes of prejudice still color our present world.

The ending is, perhaps, a little weak, but does complete the picture of Genna's maturation from girl to woman, and the story as a whole is both an excellent history lesson and a wakeup call to those who think that the issue of racism in America is no longer a major concern.

Given the scenario above, this book invites comparison to Octavia Butler's Kindred, which has a very similar plot and theme. Put side-by-side, this book stacks up quite well, though I would have to give the edge to Kindred, if only because of its more adult viewpoint. But both provide an excellent look at this period of American history, both have strong relevance to the world of today, and both should probably be read by all.

---Reviewed by Patrick Shepherd (hyperpat)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Eye-opening, 18 Jun 2011
By 
T. Walker (Bedfordshire, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Wish After Midnight (Paperback)
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I'm a white, middle class, English male and have very little knowledge of American, poor and black communities, so this novel came as an eye-opener for me.
The autor writes convincingly on her subject and the characters are well drawn.
The main character, Jenna, is somehow transported back in time from present day Brooklyn to the year 1863, just after slavery was abolished. Nonetheless, racism is rife and she finds life difficult in the extreme.
Yes, the plot's far-fetched, but as a device to compare the way black people are treated today with a century and a half ago it works well. It's a thought provoking novel, and I recommend it highly.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Impassioned and enlightening, 2 May 2011
By 
elmsyrup (Cardiff, Glamorgan United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: A Wish After Midnight (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Zetta Elliott's tale of an American teenager who time-travels back to 19th century Brooklyn, when black people were still slaves, is emotionally affecting and educational. The author sets out the difficulties in Genna's two lives quite well, and the different pressures black people found themselves under then and now. I do find Genna's motivations and feelings to be sometimes oblique, but her observations of the world around her are sharp and I learnt a lot about that period in history, which appeared to be well researched.

The story itself has weaknesses in that the sci-fi aspect is not very well done. There is merely a vague explanation of how the time travel happens, and no mention of whether Genna has gone into someone else's body, or whether she has just materialised out of thin air in her own body- and modern clothes?- in 1863. Also she seems to accept her time-travel without much confusion or question. I would have liked there to have been some focus on whether she can change history by her actions, whether she can use her modern knowledge to help her, and so on. Really the story might as well not have had any time travel aspect at all, because it was used as a deus ex machina and nothing more. Perhaps the author felt that her target audience would not want to read a book about the American civil war without giving them a modern cipher to act as an entry point.

There were quite a lot of typos which did distract me. I wouldn't normally mention it when reviewing a proof copy, but this book has already been published once, so they really should have been ironed out by this point. But overall I would recommend this book for teenagers because it is touching and informative, and raises a lot of issues (you can tell it was written by a teacher to facilitate classroom discussion). It's not a masterpiece but it's readable and fulfils a useful purpose.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting way to view history and appreciate how difficult life is/was for some groups in society., 2 Jan 2014
By 
Mr. B Bloxham - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Wish After Midnight (Kindle Edition)
Traveling from the ghetto in Brooklyn back to the Brooklyn of the American Civil War period provides an interesting, if shocking, way to consider how different groups in society relate to each other, both now and then.

It's worth reading this and seeing the film, "The Butler."
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3.0 out of 5 stars a wish after midnight, 8 Nov 2013
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Ordered without prior knowledge of story. Not really the sort of book I enjoy reading .Regretfully, I did not finish
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4.0 out of 5 stars A book for young adults, 5 Oct 2013
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Although it became clear that it was aimed at young adults I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. An excellent story line coupled with knowledgable black American history.
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4.0 out of 5 stars An impulse buy, 5 Oct 2013
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An enjoyable story that was an impulse buy.
I will be looking out for the next book from this author
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good read, 3 Oct 2013
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I really enjoyed this book as it.was a very relaxed read. I.would certainly recommend it as a good holiday read....
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4.0 out of 5 stars Grippping, 22 April 2013
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Very accessible & enjoyable throughout. Definitely see me recommending this book in class. Would've loved to know what happened to Judah though.
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3.0 out of 5 stars unanswered question, 15 April 2013
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I did enjoy the story but was frustrated that they never addressed my question which was why did it happen? but i dont want to elaborate and spoil it!
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