Running Out of Time is a novel written for young adults, by Margaret Peterson Haddix. Maya has been asking me to read this book for quite awhile now, and as I just finished Pictures of Hollis Woods, and was in the mood for another YA/quick read, I said yes, I would like to read it. Besides, the letter ‘R’ was coming up in my month of letters, so I had yet another impetus. I’m glad that she talked me into reading it, because I really enjoyed the book. The suspense was engrossing, and the characters very likable.
Running Out of Time is the story of a young girl, Jessie, who lives in Clifton, Indiana, in 1840. Life is hard, but she has a family who loves her, and they all pitch in and work together. Think Little House. Trouble comes to Clifton in the form of a diphtheria epidemic, which threatens to kill many in Clifton, especially the children. Jessie’s mother is a midwife, talented in helping to cure people of disease using herbs and other traditional remedies, but she has no cure for diphtheria. She does, however, know how to procure one. You see, it turns out that Clifton is a historical village, much like Colonial Williamsburg, in which tourists come to watch and see how people lived in frontier towns in the 1840’s. The difference is that in Clifton, none of the children know that they are actually in 1996, they believe that the year is 1840. Tourists watch them through one way mirrors and through cameras placed around the village. The adults know, but things have gone wrong recently in Clifton, and they are no longer allowed to leave, no longer allowed modern medicine, no longer allowed to even talk amongst themselves about the modern time they left behind.
Jessie’s mom has found a way out, though, and sends Jessie on a mission to find help for the children of Clifton, before it is too late. Jessie has to confront the modern world, with its many inventions (electricity, telephones, cameras, cars, refrigerators, the list goes on and on), in her quest to find someone who can help her, and can bring medicine to Clifton.
The story is full of drama, with betrayals, assumed identities, an evil plot, and people who are genuinely confused about reality. I would highly recommend this book to any lovers of historical fiction and young adult novels.
When Maya and I were telling Ted about the story, he kept saying, that sounds like that movie, The Village. Here’s what wikipedia has to say on that:
The plot of the 2004 M. Night Shyamalan movie The Village is very similar to the plot of Running Out of Time, to the extent that Margaret Peterson Haddix’s publisher considered legal action against the makers of The Village. Both involve an 1800s village which is actually a park in the present day. Both have young heroines on a search for medical supplies. And both have a traitorous set of adults bent on keeping things in the olden days.
The end of the book had me thinking of the children in Texas right now, the children who have been raised on the polygamous compound, and how scary and confusing all of this must be for them, and what culture shock they must be going through, and how frightened to be separated from their parents. My heart goes out to them.