A Lifetime of Impossible Days cover

Change the past to change the future

Review: A lifetime of impossible days by Tabitha Bird

Most people dream of changing the past, but what if it was actually possible? Tabitha Bird’s debut novel A lifetime of impossible days considers how even the smallest of changes to the past could make a big difference to the future.

Meet the three Willas.

There’s Silver Willa, 93 years old, almost childlike in her ability to find joy and wonder, while suffering memory and age-related declines. Middle Willa, age 33, struggling with her past and finding the onslaught of traumatic memories threatens to destroy the hope for happiness she is building in her young family. Super Gumboots Willa, 8 years old, using her vivid imagination to protect herself and her sister from a traumatic family life.

When magic in the form of a box – an ocean – to bury in the garden allows them to cross time and meet eachother, can they save each other from impending disaster?

Forgiveness and trauma

Though sensitive and magical, this is a story about trauma and how it can follow someone throughout their life. The young Willa is a victim of domestic violence and sexual assault. As she and her family live with the consequences of this, Willa blames herself for what happens and the scene is set for further tragedy.

Can the pattern be broken?

Is ongoing tragedy the expected life for all survivors of trauma? For many, it must be the case. Especially when you consider the challenges of finding any support and resources for mental health and wellbeing.

A lifetime of impossible days considers a variety of outcomes. The bleakest suggests that Willa’s life becomes a sequence of devastating events leading her to be estranged from any who could love her and treated harshly by a carer. But this is not the end. It’s only the beginning.

With an ocean connecting the Willas across time, anything could happen. But only if each is prepared to listen. And only if Willa can learn to forgive herself for a past that was never her fault.

Gumboots for bravery

A lifetime of impossible days is an ambitious and clever story, even more so when you consider it is a first novel for author Tabitha Bird. It’s a gripping read and, if the premise is ‘impossible’, putting the book down is equally so. There’s also a lovely sense of whimsy and nostalgia throughout. A clear example of this is the use of gumboots in Silver Willa and Super Gumboots Willa as a symbol of joy and bravery. Perhaps everyone could take a lesson from the Willas and put on a pair of gumboots to battle with life’s challenges.

If you are looking for a book that will make you cry and laugh and hope (sometimes all at once), then this is your novel.

An invitation: Have you met Super Gumboots Willa? Where: You decide When: In your own time

Extract from A Lifetime of Impossible Days by Tabitha Bird

A lifetime of impossible days by Tabitha Bird was published by Penguin in June 2018. Find out more and where to buy a copy here.

Enjoyed this review and looking for another book to read? Have a look at Spinning Silver.