Jacob’s life changed in a single moment when, as a toddler, he walked through his bedroom door only to find himself in the office of a British officer in Capetown, 1870. This would begin a thirty-year journey which would take him from ancient to future civilizations, and innumerable places and times in between. Through all of his travels, Jacob seeks for the purpose of his predicament, the significance of his life with all of its joys and suffering, loneliness and impermanence.
Another author, T.W. Dittmer, pointed me in the direction of Scott D. Southerd, an author who also happens to write a killer blog. I enjoyed his blog-style so much I picked up his book, My Problem With Doors.
This book is tough to categorize. Yes, it could be considered YA in somewhat the same way The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is YA, yet just like The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe the story is bigger than YA because of its existential themes, the adult questions posed by the story, and the answers sought by the main character, Jacob.
My Problem With Doors is a fantasy. It involves time travel and pirates– I’m a sucker for time travel. Pirates… eh. Some of you are more into pirates than I am, but that’s neither here nor there. (The book contains far more than pirates. Jacob’s experience during The Children’s Crusade is quite remarkable.)
What makes this a good book– (As a point of reference I can’t help but compare it to other time-travel novels I’ve read relatively recently.)
Remember Replay, by Ken Grimwood? Remember that book? Brilliant book. I loved it. But in Replay no matter how hard he tried, Jeff, the protagonist, could not alter the past. This construct was prefect for Replay.
In My Problem With Doors Jacob does alter the past. Not in a larger sense, not in any way that would alert the future time police, but in a way that, oh gosh… for lack of a better descriptive word, humanizes the past. With the knowledge he gains via his time travel, Jacob tries to do the right thing regardless of the confusing circumstances in which he finds himself.
Jacob skips through time, much like Henry in The Time Traveler’s Wife, but while Henry couldn’t remember anything that hadn’t yet happened, Jacob grows and matures in a more linear fashion. He remembers. He learns. Each jump, while it may propel him backwards in time, propels him forward as a human being. From my perspective it makes him a more compelling character than Henry could ever be. Where Henry was helpless, a victim of his genetic disability, Jacob is far from helpless. He’s a survivor.
Therein lies the appeal of My Problem With Doors– Hope remains, even if contained in something as tiny and fragile as a tomato seed. When I finished The Time Traveler’s Wife I was so pissed off I threw the book against the wall. When I finished My Problem With Doors I sobbed.
Here’s the Amazon link: My Problem With Doors, by Scott D. Southard
You can read a sample and find a buy link for the ebook here- My Problem With Doors.