At first glance, time travel sounds like it doesn’t belong as part of historical fiction. Time travel is part of science fiction, right?
Maybe… but stories of time travel can be full of the richly detailed historical setting, and glimpses into another time that historical fiction fans love.
Rabey makes an excellent case for teens’ interest in time travel as a subgenre of historical fiction
“Journeying into the past has a certain romantic element. Anyone who has felt out of place in his or her own time can read these novels and feel swept up in a great romance,” (Rabey,p. 282)
A time traveling character is jolted out of normal, present-day settings. and can have a major shift in perspective that leads to a coming-of-age style narrative. There’s certainly possibility for adventure, and maybe even the potential for romance.
Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly, is an engrossing time travel adventure set in the French Revolution… or is it? Andi Alpers is angry at the world, grieving the loss of her younger brother, in danger of failing school. Her music is the one thing she loves. Her father thinks that whisking her away on a trip to Paris will open doors between them. But a diary Andi finds builds a connection between her, and the past, the French Revolution. It becomes an outlet for, and an escape from, her grief.
Prada and Prejudice by Mandy Hubbard is a frothy and fun for teen fans of modern chick lit or Regency romance. Callie is a klutz who wants to befriend the popular girls on a school trip to London. She wears a pair of trendy Prada shoes, falls, whacks her head and wakes up in 1815. She is taken in by Emily, who mistakes Callie for a childhood friend. And then the young Duke shows up… This is a fun historic romp for young teen readers, or older teens looking for a fairly fluffy, giddy romance.
Stuck in the 70’s by D.L. Garfinkle.(2007, Putnam Juvenile, 172 pages.) Nerdy, awkward Tyler suddenly finds a beautiful girl in his bathtub. Even odder, Shay claims she’s from 2006. Shay makes Tyler a deal: in exchange for help getting back to her own time, she’ll help him be more popular. Loaded with pop culture seen from Shay’s shallow perspective. Is it too soon for this to be historical fiction? Or just too odd, period?
The Nick McIver adventures by Ted Bell are like historical fiction within historical fiction, with a swashbuckling pirate adventure in the mix. It’s 1939, and Nick lives on Greybeard Island, one of the Channel Islands between England and France. Finding an old sea chest that belonged to his ancestor and namesake transports Nick back to 1805, where he gets involved in trying to thwart a plot against the British Navy, while his younger sister, Kate tries to do her part when German submarines are spotted near their island. The second book moves between 1940 and 1781, between the intensity of World War II and a pirate adventure that spills over into their present. (Middle grade readers, grade 5 or 6 up.)
From the Adult Shelf:
Science fiction writer Connie Willis has done a series of time travel novels that straddle the line between historical fiction and science fiction. The basic premise of the series is that historians from the far future (relative to us, readers in the 21st century) do research by traveling back in time and working to blend in with ordinary people.
The Doomsday Book (Bantam Spectra 1992, 570 pages) sends a time traveler back to the Middle Ages, during the Black Plague. It’s fascinating, though there are some gruesome illness details. And a moment or two where you might want to cry. (High school, 15 and up for gore and level of detail.)
Blackout and All Clear are companion novels, sending the time travelers back to London during the Blitz. Absolutely make sure you have them both before you start reading the first one. The time travelers think they’re prepared to stay safe as the bombs fall… But their science doesn’t go as planned, leaving them nearly as much at the mercy of history as Londoners living through it for the first time.