Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Literally the Best Reviews: Window Across Time

Window Across Time -- Cynthia Cotten
120 Pages

A young adult, or middle grade, book is not normally on my reading list, although I have, on occasion, found one or two on my reading list. This week, I found myself reading one from Lockport author, Cynthia Cotten. Window Across Time is a series of vignettes that tell a story set from the same house in the same town across nearly 200 years of its history.

Louise English, a young girl from Vermont, moves to the western New York area  with her father and sister after her mother dies. As she arrives in Port Rose, it is still in the infancy of the Erie Canal. Her new stone house overlooks the historic waterway, which is so predominantly featured in Cotten’s books. This stone house is central to the rest of the stories throughout the book.

Each of the vignettes tells the story of successive inhabitants of the house with the window looking out over the town and canal. Each of those stories also correspond with significant historical milestones. From the early days of the Erie Canal, we touch upon slavery and the Underground Railroad, the technological revolution as street lamps move from gas to electricity, and onto the death of a President on a world stage.

As the stories move into the twentieth century, we’re given haunting images of the Great Depression, the fears of the Cold War with the launch of Sputnik, and the infamous Blizzard of ‘77. Throughout all these moments in time, the curiosity and hope of youth shines through.

Each of the names carved in the window frame is a story of wonder.  It’s that timeless question that many of us have: “What would they think of the world now?” And that question is followed up with, “What will those in the future think of my initials alongside all these others?”

With this book, Cynthia Cotten has touched upon events in our lives and in the lives of our forebears. These snippets could encourage the reader to investigate more on each of these moments to discover why they had such an impact on the lives of the characters. My 11-year old daughter, who read the book, was that way. She asked questions about things she was not sure of. In this way, Cotten has instilled a desire to further reading. Isn’t that what every author wants, more books to be read?

Window Across Time by Cynthia Cotten is a glimpse through a window into the lives of eight disparate characters connected by a thin thread across time by a simple window looking out onto an extraordinary landscape. It was fun to read, and your children will love it.

Craig Bacon thinks a lot about the people who lived in his house before him, and what they would think of the world as we know it today. How will his grandchildren and great grandchildren view his life, decades from now?