Recently on Facebook someone in a group about my hometown (Elgin, Illinois) posted a video I’d uploaded to YouTube that my grandfather filmed when Jack Kennedy stopped in Elgin on his campaign tour. The Facebook user credited me with the video and requested my friendship on Facebook. I checked out his FB page before accepting the friendship and saw that his name was Dennis Higgins, he lived in Elgin and he wrote a few books. When I asked him about the books he said that two take place in Elgin and one in Chicago. Oh, and the books are all about time travel.
Something you may or may not know about me is that I am a sucker for time travel stories. I am not sure when it began, but I know I liked anything about time travel as far back as when I could only check out books from the children’s part of the library. One of the first time travel stories I remember reading was The Time Garden by Edward Eager. I may or may not have read the other books in his time-travel series, but I think I read at least a few of them. I also remember reading The Children at Green Knowe and other books in that series around that time, which has elements of parallel time in it. While the Chronicles of Narnia are not time-travel stories exactly — I thought of them as such when I devoured them in my teens. When I was teaching I discovered the young adult’s author, Avi, and read his very scary, but delicious Something Upstairs. More recently I have read and loved The Time Traveler’s Wife and 11-22-63.
It doesn’t stop with books — I also love time travel films. Although I don’t remember when I first saw Somewhere in Time, it is a movie I watch whenever it comes on television and is among my top five favorite films. I have not yet read the book by Richard Matheson on which it was based , although I did begin reading it and have it on my Nook. About the same time I first saw Somewhere in Time, I also saw The Two Worlds of Jenny Logan which was another romantic time-travel story, but not nearly as compelling as Somewhere in Time.
I even tried to write a time travel story once for NaNoWriMo. I’d been toying with an idea for a story about a bored 10 year old boy or girl somehow time-traveling to the early 1800′s and meeting young Robert E. Lee while his parents attended a wedding reception at the home ever since we attended a wedding at Robert E. Lee’s boyhood home in Alexandria, VA. While I didn’t finish the story (I got bored with it and lost it in a computer hard drive crash) I did end up learning a lot about Lee and his family. I think if I were to ever write anything about his family I’d write about his mother. Not a lot has been written about her and she was a long-suffering woman with an interesting life.
Back to Mr. Higigns and his time travel books. I borrowed his first book, Parallel Roads (Lost on Route 66) on my Kindle and began reading it in bed Wednesday night at about 10:00. I read about 25% and decided I’d better get to sleep because I had a ton of work to do the next day. I couldn’t sleep so I read some more. Finally at 2 am I put the book down and eventually fell asleep, having read half the book. I didn’t read much yesterday because I was so busy, but did finish the book this morning.
I really enjoyed it. This one does not take place in Elgin, but there is an Elgin pocket watch in it. It is about a 30-something’s search for information about the disappearance of his paternal grandmother shortly after she gave birth to his father. It is also a bit of a travelogue about Route 66, then and now. I always find it interesting that so many authors have been able to make so many different ways to time travel, and this one is unique. I’m not doing a very good job “reviewing” this book. If you want to read a really well-done review about it, check out Ingrid Hall’s review.
You know how sometimes you read a book and it is completely foreign to you? You learn a lot of new things from that kind of book, but it never really feels familiar? Those can be good reads, but I also like the kinds of books that make me feel like I am in my own living room — books that make me nod and think, yeah, that’s right. Books that might make me think of a parallel experience I have had. That’s what Parallel Roads was for me, in a way. No, I’ve never traveled in time, but I have tracked down some missing family history through my recent forays into genealogy. I also recently took a cross-country trip with an emotional woman. In fact, the road trip (the 1946 one) in the book really did remind me of my recent trip with Clare in quite a number of ways but if I tell you how it might ruin the ending of the book for you.
I am really glad I uploaded that video that my grandfather took and grateful to Dennis for requesting my friendship because of it. I look forward to reading his other books. Time Travel! Elgin! What’s not to love?