Author: Margaret Peterson Haddixrunning out of time cover

Number of Pages: 192

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books

Release Date: October 1, 1995

“Jessie lives with her family in the frontier village of Clifton, Indiana, in 1840 — or so she believes. When diphtheria strikes the village and the children of Clifton start dying, Jessie’s mother reveals a shocking secret — it’s actually 1996, and they are living in a reconstructed village that serves as a tourist site. In the world outside, medicine exists that can cure the dread disease, and Jessie’s mother is sending her on a dangerous mission to bring back help.

But beyond the walls of Clifton, Jessie discovers a world even more alien and threatening than she could have imagined, and soon she finds her own life in jeopardy. Can she get help before the children of Clifton, and Jessie herself, run out of time?”


This book was recommended to me not too long ago, and this person was so enthusiastic about it that I read it right away. At first I was hesitant- this is a children’s book that was published in the mid-1990s, so I wasn’t sure how much I would enjoy it. But I was told that I would like it nonetheless, so I dove right in.

I didn’t know anything about the plot or setting of the story going in, so you can imagine my delight when I discovered what Running Out of Time is actually about. The idea of having a group of people live like it’s the 1840s when it is actually 1996 is absolutely fascinating to me. This book is unique because it encompasses the past, present, and future: Would our government of today ever set up a village like Clifton in the years to come? It’s certainly a scary thought, but somehow it doesn’t seem too far out of the realm of plausible. This concept is an unusual blend of historical and science fiction, and I don’t think I’ve ever read anything quite like it.

A major strength of this novel was the voice of the narrator, Jessie, who is a young teenager living in Clifton. As soon as she stepped outside of the 1840s and into the real world of 1996, I expected to find some flaws in her perspective and narration. However, I think that Haddix does an excellent job of writing a realistic and objective view of our modern world. For example, she writes that Jessie views the pavement of the city as a “floor”. How clever is that? It was refreshing to read a book with a realistic narrator, especially a historical/science fiction novel. With these genres, more so than with a lot of fiction, it is necessary for the reader to suspend belief of many details in the story. This becomes increasingly difficult if the narrator itself is not believable to begin with. Fortunately, this was absolutely not a problem with Running Out of Time. 

Overall, I really enjoyed this novel. The writing, pacing, character development, and story idea itself were all great. This is actually Haddix’s debut novel, which is amazing considering how fantastic it is. I’m so glad that this book was recommended to me!

My Rating: :0) :0) :0) :0) :0) 5 out of 5 smileys.

Would I recommend it to a friend?: Absolutely! No matter how old you are or what you normally read, I would definitely recommend giving this book a try!





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