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Always Agnes
Mickey Dubrow
Former TV writer Dubrow (American Judas) pairs a teenage science prodigy and a plucky single mother in this imaginative young adult fiction. Claudia Cook—a struggling single mother working as a fast-food manager with an overwhelming fondness for R.E.M.—is fiercely proud of her brilliant daughter, Agnes, but dissatisfied with her own life. Agnes, the result of a teenage Claudia’s one-night stand at a Halloween party, is pursuing her doctorate in physics from Georgia Tech at the tender age of 17—and set to unveil something world-changing: her new time-traveling technology. But just as the big reveal is about to happen, Claudia is found dead in her garage with her car running, and no one’s quite sure if it’s an accident or suicide.

Readers will empathize with Agnes’s fierce determination to save her beloved mother’s life. While still processing her shock, Agnes makes the bold choice to put to use the experimental research she’s pioneered and head back to the past to avert present and future heartbreak, hoping to save Claudia—even if in doing so Agnes risks her very own existence. The results aren’t what she expects: instead of fixing the past, she creates parallel lives with different versions of herself, albeit with different fathers and life experiences. She realizes that some things are fated—such as her birth, and Claudia’s death—no matter how hard you try to change them.

Dubrow delivers a courageous protagonist in Agnes, and despite sections of the narrative that feel exposition heavy, readers will empathize with Agnes’s fierce determination to save her beloved mother’s life regardless of the potential side effects. Dubrow’s skills as a screenwriter shine through the perfectly-paced novel, leaving readers on the edges of their seats as they experience Agnes’s alternate realities. Anyonewho’s ever wished for a do-over in life will devour this appealing, twisty, empathetic story.

Takeaway: Captivating time travel story with its hard-won wisdom and familial love.

Comparable Titles: Sarah Lariviere’s Time Travel for Love and Profit, Julie Cross’s Tempest.

Production grades
Cover: A
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: A-
Marketing copy: A-