Thursday, July 8, 2010

Throwback Thursday: Don't Know Where, Don't Know When

Don't Know Where, Don't Know When (The Snipesville Chronicles #1) by Annette Laing 2007

Rating: 3/5

IQ "Do you really find labels helpful? I find the minute I sum up something give it a name, and put it in a box, I've stopped trying to understand it, and that will never do...." The Professor pg. 192

Hannah Dias has just moved from exciting San Francisco, California to boring small town Snipesville, Georgia with her father and brother, Alex. In Snipesville they meet Brandon, who Hannah deems a "dork" but he and Alex hit it off right away. The kids also meet the mysterious Professor. Shortly after they meet the Professor, the kids are transported back to England during WWII. They can't go home unless they find George Braithwaite (not that they know who he is or what his connection is to Snipesville), but they may not make it out alive.

Hannah is probably one of the most annoying characters I've ever read. She was so frustrating, argh! I understood her initial panic at traveling back through time but gradually as she learned more about why she was there, I grew sick of her attitude. She was completely spoiled, always complaining and refusing to go with the flow. To make matters worse, I don't think she changed that much at the end (maybe she will in the next book?). I felt bad for her because part of her acting out was due to her mother's death but at the same time, some of her actions were just inexcusable. Alex was charming, although I could occasionally understand why Hannah was annoyed with her younger brother (he could be a bit of an unintentional Goody Two Shoes which rubbed us both the wrong way, ha ha).I didn't think Hannah or Alex acted that realistically for their age, but their age is never really specified so I can't be sure. They could act quite young in forgetting that certain things/expressions weren't around during WWII, it seemed as if an older kid would not have slipped up so many times or been so naive. At first I was a bit irked by how vague the time travel descriptions were, I still don't really get how the kids traveled through time, but it's not that big a deal. For people who really like details, this may be a problem, but it wasn't for me.

Time travel can be really confusing but this author makes it pretty easy to follow. She introduces a few major characters and storylines and then managed to connect them all back together, which was impressive to me (the Prologue was completely confusing and when it all started to make sense there was a huge light bulb moment for me :) I also loved how this book looked at the 'little things', everyday life for the English people in the countryside during WWII. It was eye opening because usually you only hear about battles/soldiers and important people, it was refreshing to see how ordinary people lived during these scary times. I also appreciated the look at how Black people were treated in England. Brandon is Black and a rarity in England, many people he meets have never met a Black person before. It was interesting to read about because I never really thought about POC in England during this time but I would have just assumed they were as bad as white Americans. I would say the English treated Black people about the same as Americans did, there were just less Black people so we weren't as much of a "threat."

Don't Know Where, Don't Know When is an original read that concerns how ordinary people lived in the extraordinary time of WWII. It talks about the children sent to the countryside to get away from the bombing of London, food rationing, pubs and so much more. I learned a lot from this novel. The writing is mostly easy to follow and while it doesn't always flow, it is entertaining. The author has a very fun and engaging way of writing, which helps because while I couldn't relate to her characters due to their immaturity, I laughed at the situations they got in and things that they said. I enjoyed her matter-of-factly hilarious explanations of certain English terms and events during WWII in the Foreword. The mystery aspect kept me turning the pages, eager to find out who George Braithwaite is and his importance to the story (it was a lovely surprise). I would read the sequel, A Different Day, A Different Destiny (set in 1851 in England, Scotland and the U.S. I know what was going on in the U.S. at the time, but have no idea about the other countries.)

Disclosure: Received from the author. Thank you Annette!

Throwback Thursday is hosted by Take Me Away Reading


  1. On my to-read list. Thanks!

  2. This makes me think of the Johnny and the Bomb series by Terry Pratchett (kids travelling back to WWII), but possibly with more annoying people it sounds like.

    As for black people in WWII in the UK they weren't treated equally here (try Andrea Levy's 'Small Island' for a glimpse) but the big difference was that we didn't have official policies of segregation here. That's not to say segregation didn't happen in practise according to business owners discretion, but it was never a legal measure. I'd say you're right about there not being many black people in the UK in the 1940s, from what I know (and my history interests do not lie in the 1900s at all so this may be sketchy)many people first met black people when American soldiers were stationed over here.

  3. I just read this book; I thought the writer had a good sense of humor and I enjoyed the book overall, but I think your 3/5 rating is right. I agree with you 100% about Hannah's character. She never seemed to get beyond her own self-centered whininess despite the fact that there's a war going on around her! I also think the cover design was not great and missed the opportunity to communicate that this is a really good story. But having POC at the center of a story about WW2 England was quite interesting and unique. (Although Maiya Williams' time travel historical fiction with POC at the center - The Golden Hour series - is still my favorite!) Looking forward to reading A Different Day, A Different Destiny.

    BTW, I *love* your blog and have discovered lots of good books here!


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