Ida by Alison Evans
Published by: Echo Publishing
Released: January 10 2017
Read: January 31 2017
Ida is a fresh and exciting new contemporary novel. There are many aspects I loved, particularly Ida’s voice, and her relationships with her father, her love interest Daisy and her cousin Frank. I would have liked to have seen more development and interactions between them all.
With the central idea of the novel Ida’s ability to travel back in time and ‘do over’, initially there’s a bit of confusion about what’s happening. When we meet her at the beginning of the novel, Ida is at the point where she travels back for the flimsiest of reasons. Readers know there will be consequences. Ida’s dismay at realising her travel might cause her to lose those most dear to her, and change the past in unimaginable ways, provides much of the tension in the narrative. Unfortunately this is not a strong enough cause of conflict, and I kept wishing we were back in the Art Gallery with Daisy while they opened Ida’s eyes to the wonder of art.
The queer characters of the story are another positive and interesting element. Daisy prefers the pronoun ‘they’, which has caused friction at home. I liked that we didn’t get a blow-by-blow account of how awful Daisy’s father is. There’s enough to allow us to see what life must be like, but we aren’t dragged down into melodrama or cliché. Frank is revealed as trans, and again, there’s no big confrontation or accusation; just Frank living with Ida, clearly making his own way through school and not suffering through parental disapproval. Actually, I would have liked to have known these two much better.
For the last third of the book, we remain with Ida as she tries to figure out what’s happening to her. She does have help from a time travelling mentor, (with her own backstory to tell), but it’s no surprise that the attempts to explain how Ida ‘travels’ and how she fixes it are not completely successful. A lot of blacking out, seeing the light, moving from cold to warmth; what does it all mean?
Ida works effectively when it’s about a girl trying to figure out what to do with her life, and knowing only one thing—Daisy has to be in it. But on the level of a metaphorical ‘do over’ cautionary tale, it’s not as successful. Sure, the message is a good one—we can’t go back and get to make everything right. The best way is to move forward and try not to repeat those mistakes. But I found the delivery of it a little heavy-handed.
Ida is recommended for readers who love their stories diverse and queer, mixed up with paranormal elements which cause conflict and tension. The romance is strong, and there are a couple of times I blushed along with our besotted protagonist while she imagined sweet thoughts about Daisy. The suspense develops, but there’s always the sense that Ida will solve the mystery, and fix her mistakes. Released (in Australia) on January 10 2017.