This is the third book in the series, and perhaps the one that struck me most. Each book continues with the same 4 friends but they each learn something important and special about their families, backgrounds and cultures when they are transported back in time.
When the now all too familiar clock is stuck on 03:42, Jess, Tomma, Ash and Nadia know that time travel is inevitable. Nadia has previously learned about her Polish roots and Jess about her connection to a family in 1918. This time, it is Ash who will discover some truths about his family and their past.
Ash and his Dad have a precarious relationship. Mr Mundair has high expectations on Ash to do well in school and to work hard. Ash puts in little effort but ends up with B’s and C’s on his midterm report. Knowing the trouble he will be in causes Ash to take a diversion through the park. Some old friends are there and he ends up getting drunk and stumbling home. The angst and anger fly out of him at his Dad and they avoid each other the rest of the weekend.
When the train to school delivers them to 1973, Ash meets his Dad as an angry and rebellious teen. He has been exiled from Uganda and now faces prejudice and hate in England. That feeling of not knowing where he belongs causes him to act out and get into trouble. It takes a dangerous morning with his teen Dad to see just how hard life was for these immigrants arriving in the 70’s. It was a tumultuous time and racism was a huge driving force.
Ash and his dad finally find some time to bond on a trip back to Uganda and try to see each other’s perspectives.
“One day, I pray people won’t notice the colour of our skin and will just take us for who we are.”
Harrowing, this story is a vital one in building understanding and empathy for those who were displaced and forced to leave their homes. This still happens for various reasons and we need to think as a society how we would treat those in that situation.