Book Review: Class of ’98 by A. L. Player

Class of '98Class of ’98
A. L. Player
Swoon Romance, November 2013

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From the publisher—

Jackie Dunn and Matt Stewart barely knew each other in high school, back when she was a blue-haired alterna-kid and he was a preppy jock. High school rules dictated they’d never hang out, or sit at the same lunch table, or God forbid, date.

But when a weird storm transports them from their ten-year reunion back to senior year, they have to work together to figure out a way to get back to 2008.

Stuck in high school, Jackie and Matt agree to tough it out. They agree to do everything exactly as they remember, even though that means staying with the boyfriend Jackie knows will betray her, or playing nice with the girl that will someday be Matt’s ex-wife. Soon, they come to rely on one other, even become friends.

Jackie’s just starting to get used to curfews and term papers again, when Matt hits her with the biggest surprise of all: he’s fallen in love with her. He’ll change the past however he has to if it means a future with Jackie. But Jackie’s terrified they’ll not only alter their lives, but the lives of everyone around them.

Back to the Future meets She’s All That, Class of ’98 is a young adult/adult crossover that will appeal to teens and adults.

The theme of traveling back in time to high school days has been done many times in both books and film, sometimes rather copycat-ish, other times fresh and fun. For me, Class of ’98 falls somewhere in the middle but leaning towards the fresh side. I think the biggest disconnect for me lay in the 90’s setting; I would have “bonded” with the story and characters a little better if things were moved back a few years. Having said that, I still found much to like, especially the new beginnings Jackie and Matt discover for themselves. In a way, I was reminded of my own 10th reunion when I ended up spending the evening with a guy I knew in school but had never really known. It was one of the best evenings of my adult life.

I loved Jackie with all her hidden vulnerability although I was surprised at how much her high school days were still bothering her; she really should have gotten past it ten years later, at least somewhat. Matt, on the other hand, is a doll and seemed to have grown into a very likeable young man with his feet on the ground and well past the popular jock syndrome. Their being so sympatico in the future isn’t surprising since that sort of thing actually happens pretty often in real life when people mature enough to appreciate the ones they would have scorned or ignored before.

Having these two carry their current sensibilities into the past was an interesting touch on Ms. Player’s part but this is where things fell apart for me just a bit. Somehow, knowing what they know now carrying back into the past diluted any tension there might have been so the story turned kind of soft for lack of a better word, Still, I like Ms. Player’s writing and will look forward to reading more from her.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, December 2013.

About the Author

A.L. PlayerA. L. Player teaches middle and high school English in Atlanta, GA.  She lives with her guitar-playing, English-teaching husband and their three crazy rescue dogs.  Her last name gets about the reaction you’d expect.
CLASS OF ’98 is A.L.’s first novel.

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