I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It is a love story in a pseudo sci-fi setting of time travel. Unlike other books about time travel, in this one there’s no machines or tunnels through space. Instead, Henry has a genetic condition that causes him to spontaneously time-travel to moments in his own past or future. It seems his episodes are triggered by stress and similar to epileptic fits. He can’t control where he goes or how long he stays, and he always arrives naked. In order to survive during his trips this apparently very nice guy hones skills at pick-pocketing, breaking and entry and especially running– to procure food, clothing, shelter and escape from thugs and policeman. As the story progresses, Henry’s unpredictable disappearances into the past and future become increasingly dangerous.
The story is full of twists. When Henry first meets Claire, she is twenty and he is twenty-eight. He’s a good-looking librarian at the Newbery Library in Chicago, and she’s an art student who creates large sculptures out of handmade paper. He’s never seen her before, but she’s known him since she was six years old, when he first visited her from his future. It can be really confusing, but if you ignore the dates and ages heading the chapters and avoid trying to match every event up, you can sit back and enjoy it.
I had a difficult time putting The Time-Traveler’s Wife down. It was one of the best reads I’d had in a while! When I was done I had quite a number of unanswered questions, though. Henry’s genetic time-traveling condition is rather sketchily presented and you have to suspend some belief to read about it. I wished the author had spent more time on the medical treatment and discoveries related to it. I also thought that living in such a confusing non-linear state would eventually cause some kind of major mental breakdown. But the thing I really couldn’t figure out was who first wrote the list? It really bugged me that there was no answer to that.