Book Review: Yesterday is History by Kosoko Jackson – A Thoughtful, Vulnerable and Queer Story about Time Travel, Our Greatest Loves, and Acceptance

Blurb:

Weeks ago, Andre Cobb received a much-needed liver transplant.

He’s ready for his life to finally begin, until one night, when he passes out and wakes up somewhere totally unexpected…in 1969, where he connects with a magnetic boy named Michael.

And then, just as suddenly as he arrived, he slips back to present-day Boston, where the family of his donor is waiting to explain that his new liver came with a side effect—the ability to time travel. And they’ve tasked their youngest son, Blake, with teaching Andre how to use his unexpected new gift.

Andre splits his time bouncing between the past and future. Between Michael and Blake. Michael is everything Andre wishes he could be, and Blake, still reeling from the death of his brother, Andre’s donor, keeps him at arm’s length despite their obvious attraction to each other.

Torn between two boys, one in the past and one in the present, Andre has to figure out where he belongs—and more importantly who he wants to be—before the consequences of jumping in time catch up to him and change his future for good.

I received an eARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Stories that blend time travel and romance together have my whole heart. One of my greatest and most vulnerable hopes in our existence is that love transcends time and space; that love can exist independently of both. And then I read Yesterday is History, a wonderful YA story about a boy time travels and, against all odds, finds a love of his life in the 1960’s. I struggle to accurately describe the feeling that reading Yesterday is History gave me – all I know is that this story is beautiful, heart-rendering, and filled with so much hope.

Yesterday is History by Kosoko Jackson follows Andre, a Black teen who has survived cancer and is given a second chance of life when he receives a liver donation. But what Andre discovers is that his new liver has given him the ability to time travel, and when he travels back in time, he meets Michael, a stunning and sharp boy who just might be Andre’s match. As Andre oscillates between past and present, Andre also starts to form a relationship with his dead liver donor’s brother, Blake.

As you can probably tell, I love books that have to do with time travel – especially when there’s a romance involved. In this story, time travel isn’t just a random ability that Andre so happens to inherit after his surgery; time travel is thoughtfully embedded into the reality of Yesterday is History. Like Andre, readers will be pulled into a secret world of time travel. And listen: the time travel in this is fantastic. It’s a kind of time travel that has its own rules and adds an intense and incredible emotional layer that just pulls you back into another sitting.

The cast of Yesterday is History was fantastic. I enjoyed getting to know Blake and Michael, but the character that shone brightest was Andre. Smart, sharp, thoughtful, and just, Andre is a memorable character that most people will find themselves relating with. (Me personally? I enjoyed how Andre reflected on his career path, doubted, and settled at a place where ‘still figuring things out’ was a valid conclusion to his development.) In particular though, I think readers will find Andre’s agency across the book really refreshing. Though the path of the story is clear, I enjoyed that Andre challenges, questions, struggles, finds joy, learns, and grows, which made the story incredibly interesting and engaged me throughout.

Of course, what I really enjoyed about Yesterday is History is the sublime romances. Yesterday is History has probably one of the best love triangles that I’ve read. I enjoyed that the love triangle challenged Andre; enjoyed that the romances that he forms with two very different boys made him question, reflect, and, best of all, so incredibly and tenderly vulnerable. Andre’s story and his feelings – all wonderfully written – feel so genuine. If I have to choose a word to describe Andre’s characterisation and his journey, it’s ‘brave’.

At the heart of Yesterday is History, is a story about love in its most vulnerable, most tender and most selfless. Yesterday is History presents a compelling and complex romance where ‘the one’ isn’t straightforward and that choice has consequences to explore what ‘love’, in its purest form, is. What I loved about this book the most is how the story explores love, and whether there is a time for it. Can two people love each other even if the time isn’t right? Does love have a ‘chance’? Can love extend and exist, independent of the confines of time and space?

I loved that Yesterday is History was able to evoke all these wonderful questions and ideas about love and time. And though I went back and forth about who Andre would ultimately choose, I liked that the love triangle was actually less about ‘who he would choose’, but was instead an organic journey about Andre’s joy, his loves and, in tandem, his growth. I don’t think Yesterday is History is a ‘lesson story’, but it definitely offers a heartaching and awful exploration of how acceptance – of life, of what happens, of ourselves – is so incredibly difficult but necessary.

MY CONCLUSION: HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

If Yesterday is History is an example of Jackson’s sheer talent and hard work, then I am incredibly excited to see how he will grow as a writer and the stories that he will tell. Heartaching, beautiful, and so tender, Yesterday is History is a phenomenal story about a miracle that sends a boy on an unforgettable journey of love, joy, and acceptance.

Is this book for you?

Premise in a sentence: A teen cancer survivor inherits the ability to time travel after receiving a liver transplant, where he falls in love with a boy from the 1960s and another boy in the present.

Perfect for: Readers who love time travel romances; readers who are looking for a great love triangle; readers who are looking for a Black romance with Black joy

Think twice if: You don’t like all love triangles

Genre: young adult contemporary science-fiction romance

Trigger/content warning: death of a loved one

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2 thoughts on “Book Review: Yesterday is History by Kosoko Jackson – A Thoughtful, Vulnerable and Queer Story about Time Travel, Our Greatest Loves, and Acceptance

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