________________ CM . . . . Volume IV Number 12 . . . . February 13, 1998

Cover Time Like a River.

Randy Perrin with Hannah and Tova Perrin.
Victoria, BC: Orca Books, 1997.
132 pp, paper, $7.95.
ISBN 1-57143-067-9.

Subject Heading:

Grades 5 - 7 / Ages 10 - 12.
Review by Deborah Mervold.

*** /4


I was at Isabel's again Friday, but her house, which had been a refuge for me, wasn't anymore. I didn't want to be with anyone, didn't have anything to say - and I felt that if I started talking, I wouldn't be able to stop. I would ramble and babble and finally cry and I needed so much not to start crying.

I disappeared into Isabel's room as soon as I got home and Isabel, who practically lived in her room on normal days, left me alone.

I lay on Isabel's extra bed, now my bed, hearing dinner being prepared, footsteps in the hallway, water running in the bathroom. I smelled dinner and when Isabel knocked on the door, I just said, "No thank you." My brain swam with images of my mom, exaggerated images of her face, thinning as she ate less and less, colorless, pained and confused, her eyes looking at me without focusing.

I closed my eyes tightly to block it out and started to sweat. I shivered uncontrollably. I pulled the edge of the bedspread up over me, sliding across the bed until there was enough to cover me.

Time Like a River, which has an interesting premise, is told in the first person by Margie, a likeable girl who struggles with history in school and who is confused by the recent illness of her veterinarian mother. The plot blends Margie's search for a topic for her history project, her concern with her mother's illness, and, because she has recently turned 12, the preparation for her Bat Mitzvah. With the help of her best friend, Isabel, and Isabel's mother, Margie is directed to a diary which is part of a local history collection. Written in the early years of this century by Daniel Lee, a Chinese man, the diary describes the death of Daniel's father, who like Margie's mother, was a veterinarian. Because he died from a strange illness, Margie believes that discovering the cause of his death may help her mother. Margie travels into the past to encourage Daniel to have an autopsy performed even though it is against his beliefs. Margie harbours doubts about what she is doing for she is uncertain that her efforts, even if successful in the past, will be in time to save her mother and might not be believed.

      The inclusion of biographical information about the principal author and his daughters added interest. Randy Perrin, a professional writer for twenty years, found the idea for the book while visiting Ardenwood Regional Park, a restored working farm in California, in 1993. Time Like a River is recommended for public and school libraries as well as personal collections.


Deborah Mervold is a teacher-librarian in a grade 6 to 12 school and a Grade 12 English teacher at Shellbrook Composite High School in Saskatchewan.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright © 1998 the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.

Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364