Book Review ~ Yesterday: A Novel of Reincarnation by Sammyann

YesterdayA death-defying encounter with a random stranger and a fire ravaged old clock propels a young Chicago woman into a journey of a lifetime, or rather two lifetimes, as she soon discovers she may have lived before during some of the most significant points in her city’s past. Yesterday is more than a typical romance. Rather it’s a historical time travel study that delves into the deepest aspects of who we are, who we possibly were and facing the path before us toward a future destiny.
Amanda Parker is haunted by a tragic past of loss and betrayal when she crosses paths, literally, with handsome Chicago police officer, Mark Callahan. Although she has no intentions of risking her heart again, a strange connection pulls her toward those mesmerizing blue eyes and the man’s familiar face. But how could that be? She’s sure they’ve never met and resists his attentions, until an old grandfather clock, musty and smelling of smoke damage, brings back haunting memories of an undeniable past reaching back to the 19th century. A childhood during the Civil War, left orphaned in the care of runaway slaves, and later barely escaping the Great Chicago fire. As the story unravels back toward these events, the reader discovers gems of untold history and ordinary people who survived the odds, luring us deeper into their lives and connecting seemingly unrelated events as if they could have truly happened that way. By the end, I was almost ready to believe in reincarnation, the author does such a good job of giving insight and background into the para-science, showing her meticulous research into the field as well as the historical background facts.

Underscoring it all is the city of Chicago, resonating as a character within the setting and a vibrant backdrop as luminous as the cover art, featuring an actual painting of the Great Fire from the Chicago Art Museum. I had the privilege of watching this story unfold as a critique partner and waited with bated breath to have the completed copy in hand. It’s a story I’ve returned to again and again, always finding something new to discover in its multi-layered story – a romance, a mystery, a psychological thriller, historical drama and a heartwarming family saga. A little something for everyone and just my kind of read! 5.0 stars!

Tuesday, September 11, 2001

That terrible morning 17 years ago has been on my mind all day today. It was a Tuesday, sunny, warm and with a pleasant breeze that hinted at fall, much like today was. I spent the morning at home watching the events unfold and then went to my afternoon teaching job where I taught music at an elementary school. I had no idea what the other teacher and students knew but I was determined to remain calm and proceed with my lesson plans. Earlier that summer I had devised a lesson plan of patriotic music to begin the school year, after learning the previous year that most of our rousing patriotic tunes and American folk songs were rapidly disappearing from kids’ repertoire. So that day I had planned to continue with teaching songs like “You’re a Grand Old Flag” and “America the Beautiful”. How could I bring myself to sing those songs now? That was what I pondered as I drove into the parking lot. How could I keep it together without falling into a blubbering fool in front of the kids?
When the first class of 5th graders entered my room, it was more disturbing than the news I had been hearing all morning. These poor kids were terrified and looking to me for answers. Apparently the principal had systematically gone around and pulled teachers out of the classroom to tell them of the happenings but sternly warned them not to tell the kids. Well, little pitchers do have big ears and those kids heard just enough to be scared out of their wits and let their imaginations take over. “We’re at war! Bombs are dropping all over the country!” they cried and pleaded with me to tell them what was going on. One girl feared for her mother who worked downtown in the big city an hour away and was sure she’d never see her again. I did what I could to reassure them that everything was under control. I spent the next few hours doing the same with every class, except for kindergarten who were young enough to be oblivious to it all. Imagine having to recount these kinds of events to children 5 times over! That was my day. So, while everyone else was glued to their TV’s that evening, we took our kids out to a movie. Spy Kids. We were the only ones in the theater that night and I never regretted missing whatever recap after recap the news media spun across the airwaves. After all, the news still hadn’t gotten all the details right until months later, if they ever really did.
I will always remember that day and the kids who were as much my solace as I hope I was for them. We were more than likely the first, and only, Americans that day to be singing songs of patriotism and freedom while everyone else sat shocked into silence, fear and dread. But in a small town school in Southern Illinois, we sang the songs just as I had planned – songs to keep us strong, to remind us of who we are and where we came from – and we continued to sing them and more in the weeks to come as the nation joined their voices along with us. But I’m proud that my classroom was the first that day to boldly sing of the land of the free and home of the brave.