Six Strings by Jen Sanya Williamson
YA sci-fi romance
Riley Witt is running out of time.
Battling Alzheimer’s disease, Riley’s grandmother Mary suffers from memory loss, mood swings, and a tendency to wander off.
As senior year approaches, Riley has to face the reality that the one person she depends on most is slowly fading. Making matters worse, when Mary does remember the past, she tells tales of time travel and visions. As Mary’s version of the past gets more confused, Riley knows they are running out of time together.
But when Riley discovers a guitar belonging to a famous rock star at Mary’s house, the truth behind the crazy tales finally comes out.
SIX STRINGS tells the story of Riley’s journey back to 1973 where she enters a world of music, long-lost family, and first love. Her adventure is all about discovering her past, understanding her present, and figuring out how to step into her future.
Time travel stories (especially ones involving love) can sometimes go awry, especially because there's so many of them out there. It takes a certain spark to make one stand out in the crowd, and for me, that spark was Mary. I immediately found myself sympathizing with Riley, whose beloved grandmother is descending into Alzheimer's. When I was a senior in high school, my grandfather (whom I was very close to) was also suffering from Alzheimer's, so I could completely relate. It's terrifying when someone you've known your whole life goes through days when he/she can no longer recognize you.
Riley's story goes from there. I loved all the characters in the present: her dorky father, strict mother, and loyal best friend (who might also be in love with her!!). Her adventure to the 1970's gives us a whole new set of character, including a grandfather she never had the chance to know, an arrogant musician who turns out to be Riley's real father, and Lucas, another musician who might be the one for Riley ... if only he wasn't living 30 some odd years in the past! There is also a teenage version of Riley's mother -- who behaves very, very teenagerish indeed.
I'm really interested to see where this series will go, especially with the growing relationship between Riley and Lucas. I also kind of adored Nathan, Riley's 'platonic' best friend, and want to see how/if that relationship develops as well.