That is the whole thing with the future. You don’t know. At some point you have to accept that you don’t know. You have to stop flicking ahead and just concentrate on the page you are on.Matt Haig, How to Stop Time
Tom Hazard has just moved back to London, his old home, to settle down and become a high school history teacher. And on his first day at school, he meets a captivating French teacher at his school who seems fascinated by him. But Tom has a dangerous secret. He may look like an ordinary 41-year-old, but owing to a rare condition, he’s been alive for centuries. Tom has lived history–performing with Shakespeare, exploring the high seas with Captain Cook, and sharing cocktails with Fitzgerald. Now, he just wants an ordinary life.
Unfortunately for Tom, the Albatross Society, the secretive group which protects people like Tom, has one rule: Never fall in love. As painful memories of his past and the erratic behavior of the Society’s watchful leader threaten to derail his new life and romance, the one thing he can’t have just happens to be the one thing that might save him. Tom will have to decide once and for all whether to remain stuck in the past or finally begin living in the present.
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Just Read It
Coming back at ya with another Matt Haig book, and it’s just as beautifully mind-bending as The Midnight Library. If anything this book reminded me that the world is crazy and insane and we’re just living in it. I don’t know anything about anything.
Tom, beautiful Tom, knows everything about everything. At least he does about history and such. That’s the benefit of being 451 years old – you’re a good history teacher. Unfortunately for Tom, he’s still human and aging, so he still falls victim to the dratted mid-life crisis. That is how I’d describe Tom’s state of mind at the beginning of the book and throughout most of it too. He’s one sad dude.
Let’s make sure my math is mathing: dead loved ones + missing daughter for 400 years + trapped in a cult + said cult prohibits personal relationships + awful headaches due to being 451 years old = 1 very sad man. I think that checks out.
Tom’s just trying to understand the meaning of life and existence like the rest of us. I think the most fascinating thing about Tom is that he recalls events from the past like they happened yesterday, or are even happening in the present moment. The whole book intertwines his past and present as if they are happening at once. One minute Tom’s telling his history class about Shakespear, and the next he’s meeting Shakespear for the very first time. These two events, although hundreds of years apart, feel like they’re happening at once.
Another way Haig exemplifies the intertwining of past and present is through places. Tom walks the streets of present-day London, but all he can remember and see is the London he knew in the 1600s. It’s almost as if Tom is living in his past because his current life is so miserable.
Don’t worry, Tom isn’t sad for the whole book. He eventually discovers that by holding on to his past, he’s preventing himself from fully living in the present. The same goes for fearing his future. How can you live a decent life when you’re dwelling on the past or obsessed with what’s to come? I guess to stop time, you just have to be present.
Overall, this book is a work of art, and Matt Haig is an exceptional artist. Seriously, Mr. Haig, you’ve outdone yourself again. Brilliant! If you too are a fan of Matt Haig and literature that will make your brain fart, then you should probably just read this book.
Let me know what you think in the comments.
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