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Reviewed by Grant Leishman for Readers' Favorite
A Switch in Time: The President is Missing by Casi McLean is an interesting variation on the time travel theme and one which captures the reader’s imagination and interest. President Emery Clayton III is facing an America torn by division, strife, and violence (sound familiar?). Taking a break from the stresses of White House life, Emery is hiding in an attic, away from the constant demands and worries of the position. Stored in the attic is the old Oval Office Resolution Desk. When Emery innocently touches and reads a quotation scratched into the wood, he finds himself transported back in time, into the body of his grandfather, Clayton Emery, in 1960s America. An accountant, Clayton is on his way to Australia to pitch a new project for the large accounting firm he works for. A tragic plane accident will find Clay, his colleague Lou, and James Rucker, an angry, young black man who despises white intolerance and is a tireless campaigner for black civil rights, all stranded on a deserted island awaiting hopeful rescue. What these three men go through on the island will shape their destinies for the rest of their lives. What President Clayton discovers, on his return to the present day, is a vast international conspiracy to destabilize American democracy, ‘the American experiment’, one that would throw the country into anarchy.
A Switch in Time captivated my imagination from the very beginning. The idea that not only did the President travel back through time but was inserted into someone else’s body (his grandfather’s) was an inspired concept and I was intrigued to see how this would play out. Author Casi McLean’s mother, Eleanor LaRue, was actually the author of the original manuscript back in 1960 and Casi is to be commended for completing it and bringing it to the market. It is a fine tribute to her mother’s efforts. I particularly enjoyed the development of the relationship between Clayton and James as each came to realize that their perceptions of the other were colored by their own upbringings and ingrained prejudices and that if they were to survive, they would have to rely on each other. The author comments in the blurb that her mother was way ahead of her time in her thinking and the story absolutely bears out this assertion. In many ways, the America of the book’s present time is remarkably similar to the America we face today. What struck me most about this fascinating, easy-to-read story was not the idea that hate is taught and learned but that it can be changed and a new direction can be taken. The injustices James Rucker had faced from an early age were an accurate reflection of society in America back in the 1960s but are equally visible and relevant in today’s society. This was a fun read but also thought-provoking, especially around issues of prejudice, race, and how we treat our fellow human beings. I can highly recommend it.