The March pick for The Stars for Buttons Book Club took me by complete surprise. I quickly fell in love with the richness of the characters, especially the protagonist Rose, so much so that I didn’t even question the science of the time travel a single bit.
Tangled in Time: The Portal introduces readers to a newly orphaned teenager, Rose, sent to live with a grandmother she barely knows. In a new state, a new school, Rose navigates her grief while trying to develop new friendships, avoid bullies (the Mean Queens--and goodness are they MEAN), and rekindle a dormant relationship with her grandmother, Rosemary. The greenhouse is a sanctuary for Rosemary and Rose eventually finds solace and safe harbor in the greenhouse as well, until one night she slips back in time to 16th century England, home of the Tudor period. Rose ventures from her time back to Tudor England, finding a lost connection to her past and her present.
Time travel, past or future but especially past, is a favorite theme of mine. There is so much history (well, story) to explore while playing with our present. And Kathryn Lasky teaches readers that history isn’t so different from our own stories. Rose’s own, present-time bullies mirror the oppression of England’s 16th century classist system she periodically visits. Royals, Lords, and Ladies mock, ridicule, and oppress what they do not understand and/or what is different from themselves: dwarfism, autism, illiteracy. Rose notes this cruelty, and she bravely defends the oppressed at the risk of, well, “off with her head.” Princess Mary is sometimes within ear shot. Her gift of literacy, however, grants her the ability to speak her mind without consequence, for the most part, to Princess Elizabeth, the third in line to the throne (after her half brother Edward and half sister Mary) and notorious for surrounding herself with the clever and the ambitious.
Rose’s adventure, for me, doesn’t really start rolling until near the end of the novel. Lasky spends her chapters developing character, building a time traveling world, and respecting historical and very real lives. Tangled in Time isn’t plot-driven heavy, so this naturally slows down the pace a bit. Keep in mind, this is the first book in a two book series. I appreciate Lasky taking her time to develop all the characters, especially Rose and best friend Fanny, in the first book. And I can’t wait to read the sequel in this duology, Tangled in Time 2: The Burning Queen.
Tangled in Time: The Portal thrilled me, connected me to an older piece of history, and taught me the balance of empathy and kindness. New perspectives, magical greenhouses, and three legged cats weave this tale into a darling, memorable story for you and your favorite middle schooler.
The Stars for Buttons readers gave Tangled in Time: The Portal an average of 3.7 stars. We loved Rose as our curious and brave protagonist, but we think her story will really come to life in the sequel.
If you’re curious about our book club, you can check it out here 😁 We’d love to have ya!
Thank you so much for reading. I hope you pick up this adventure story for yourself :) If this book sounds like your kind of book, you may also like this other book, filled with its own kind of Mean Queens and a surprise family history.