Saturday, April 7, 2018

Book Review: "How to Stop Time" by Matt Haig

How to Stop Time
by Matt Haig

About the book:
Tom Hazard has a dangerous secret. He may look like an ordinary forty-one-year-old, but owing to a rare condition, he's been alive for centuries. Tom has lived history -- performing with Shakespeare, exploring the high seas with Captain Cook and sharing cocktails with Fitzgerald. Now, he just wants an ordinary life.

So Tom moves back to London, his old home, to become a high school history teacher -- the perfect job for someone who has witnessed the city's history firsthand. Better yet, a captivating French teacher at his school seems fascinated by him. But the Albatross Society, the secretive group that protects people like Tom, has one rule: Never fall in love. As painful memories of his past, and the erratic behavior of the Society's watchful leader, threaten to derail his new life and romance, the one thing he can't have just happens to be the one thing that might save him. Tom will have to decide once and for all whether to remain stuck in the past or finally begin living in the present.

My thoughts:
How to Stop Time is the first book I've read by Matt Haig, and it won't be the last. Like Tuck Everlasting, the author imagines what life would be like if people were immortal (or, at least, had very long life spans). In How to Stop Time, certain people, like Tom Hazard, aren't immortal, but they age so slowly (approximately 1 year for every 17 human years, in Tom's case) that they live for many centuries. One would think it would be wonderful to live hundreds of years and witness major events in history, but there's always a dark side to such a gift. People like Tom, called albatrosses, must watch everyone they care about grow old and die. They can never stay for long in one place because people soon grow suspicious when they don't appear to age. They face persecution for their condition. And they are haunted by the memories of a very long and tumultuous past. Tom is tormented by his past and afraid of the future. It is difficult for him to enjoy life in the present. Tom's fascinating story is extremely thought-provoking. Should we seek love when it will almost always involve loss? Should we try to extend our life spans? Why do people keep making the same mistakes over and over again throughout history? Author Matt Haig wisely tells the story in Tom's voice, hurtling the reader through poignant events in his past and through the roiling thoughts in his head. Perhaps being an ordinary mayfly -- albatrosses' term for those with normal human life spans -- isn't so bad after all.

How to Stop Time is being made into a movie starring Benedict Cumberbatch!

Disclosure: I borrowed this book from the library. This post contains my Amazon affiliate link, and I will receive a small commission on sales made through my link.

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