As she reads the diary, Em is touched by Sarah’s deep love for her husband, Robert. Emotionally, Em’s life is spinning out of control and the diary is a welcome distraction. Each day her faith slips further and further away as she blames God for the many trials and tribulations she has had to endure. After rereading the last page and Robert’s senseless murder, she has one more reason to doubt God’s love for his creation. Em slips the diary back in her pocket planning to return it to the attic before helping her mother clean the old house in Petersburg.
While scrubbing black scuffmarks off the kitchen floor, Em has an emotional meltdown airing her list of grievances, including Robert’s murder, before God. As she shouts that she doesn’t believe he really exists, vertigo suddenly hits with a vengeance and she passes out. Regaining consciousness, Em is dumbfounded; the kitchen has been replaced by a nineteenth century parlor.
It's summertime in 2008 and 15-year-old Em spends her days playing basketball with her friends and helping her mother clean the Chamberlain House, a historic building owned by the Petersburg Benevolent Ladies Society. One day she is cleaning the attic and discovers the diary of Sarah Chamberlain, which was written from 1860 to 1865. During this time, the Civil War was going on and Sarah wrote about her life as a newlywed in her diary. With the war coming to an end, her husband, Robert, is arrested since he was fighting on the side of the south. His guards, thinking he knows where some hidden gold is, eventually kill him.
Around this time, Em is doubting the existence of God ... she's had (and recovered from) cancer, her dog was hit by a car, her aunt is losing her house and now she reads that Robert had died senselessly. She passes out while cleaning the house and when she comes to, she is still in the house but it's a few days before Robert is due to be killed. She has amnesia and is taken care of by Sarah and her household.
I like books about time travel. This is the first book I've read by this author and I liked it. Though the story and writing style are directed at a YA reader, I didn't find it was too immature for me. The editing could have been tighter as there were some grammatical errors and typos.
The author handled the time period well ... it was fun to read about Em trying to fit in with the clothes (she arrived in capris and a tank top which in 1865 appeared to be underwear) and manner of speech (in 1865 "cool" and "gross", for example, have different meanings than they do today).
Em and Sarah and their family and friends have faith. I'm not religious but I didn't find it to be too overwhelming.
I would recommend this book. It would appeal to lovers of time travel and history.