Annie McGwire is a sixth grader living in the town of New Spain, famous for being next to the second largest esker in the world and not much else. However a strange series of events is launched when Annie's uncle Tim invents a time machine he calls the Time Flyer 3. When Annie's friend Mitch uses the Time Flyer and gets lost somewhere in time, Annie has to pilot the Time Flyer herself, even if she's only got a vague idea of what she's doing.
The thing that really sold me on this book is how much I liked Annie as a character. She's smart and brave and is able to think things through and does her very best to save the day, so to speak. She feels like a good-natured sixth grader who just wants things to work out. She's a very likable character and less frustrating than some of the protagonists I've come across in the past. And even though she's smart and adapts quickly, there's still a lot of stuff she doesn't understand about time travel so she's not some know-it-all kid either. I really think readers, especially kids, will like her as a character and be able to connect with her. Really, having likable characters makes reading a book a lot less of a chore.
The other thing I noticed about this book is that it felt like very easy reading. (Says the man who took on Les Miserables on a challenge.) But Annie McGwire has a very easy reading level making it especially accessible to kids. I actually feel like this is a good family book because the plot is complicated enough for adults while still remaining accessible to children. I'd definitely recommend this for family reading night and if you don't do that already this is a good place to start.
The thing that really touched me was one of Annie's choices on how to use time travel in a very personal way. I'll try to avoid spoiling it for my readers but if you know me well it's something I've often contemplated doing if I had access to time travel, in spite of all the risks. That whole ending really hit home for me and made this book especially memorable beyond just another time travel story. Definitely a must-read novel for any fans of sci-fi and time travel.