On the Children's Shelf: "Running Out Of Time" by Margaret Peterson Haddix

I just finished "Running Out Of Time" by Margaret Peterson Haddix, and it was even better than I expected. I've never read another book that I could describe this way....it's sort of a time travel book without any actual time travel. Now, I realize how odd that sounds, but I will explain.
The year is 1840 and 13-year-old Jessie lives with her family in Clifton, Indiana. She attends school in a one room school house. Her father is a blacksmith. Her life is pretty normal for a child in 1840, until several children begin to get sick. It is then that her mother shares a startling secret....it's really 1996. Jessie's parents decided many years earlier to give up their modern life and live a more simple life in this 1840's village, so they moved to Clifton and began living as if it were 150 years earlier. It's hard enough to process your mom sharing that information with you, but there are more secrets. The village they live in is a tourist attraction like Colonial Williamsburg, except the owner didn't want actors with modern day people walking through, so those who live in Clifton are being watched through cameras hidden in trees, mirrors, and walls all around the town. Yes, people have been watching Jessie unbeknownst to her for her entire life.
As if these shocking secrets weren't enough to process, there is more. The young children who are sick could die if they don't get 20th century medicine. The owner of Clifton will no longer give modern medicines, and Jessie's mom needs Jessie to try to sneak out of the village into the 21st century to get help. She needs to give Jessie a crash course on modern life from things like you need to wear jeans to explaining what a phone is and how she will use it to call for help.
Jessie is able to sneak out of the village, but her adventure is just beginning. Finding help is more challenging than one might imagine, especially for a child who has never seen running water or electricity. Will Jessie find help and be able to save the children of Clifton? What will happen to the adults in Clifton (and the owner of this tourist attraction) when others find out that children may die because they aren't receiving proper medical care? Can this tourist attraction survive? Could a child go back to living in the 1840s after seeing the 1990s? To find out the answers to all of these questions and explore what it's like to jump through 150 years of history, check out this amazing book!


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