I recently wrote a book review of The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffeneger for my school newspaper, The Daily Titan. I love the book, which mixes science-fiction and romance to show a story about two star-crossed lovers who have to deal with the effects of time travel in their lives.
Here’s the review:
The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffeneger is a story about a time traveler that combines science fiction with a captivating love story and does both incredibly well.
The novel, published in 2003, centers around Henry, who has a genetic disorder that makes him travel through time, and Clare, an artist who has known him his entire life because he recurrently time travels to her at a meadow behind her childhood house.
The novel is written in alternating first-person, journal-style accounts of what happened that lets the reader see things from both characters’ perspectives. It is evident throughout the course of the novel that they truly love each other by their thoughts and actions.
The story begins when the two characters meet in the present. Henry is a punk-loving, rebellious librarian and does not know Clare, but she has known him her entire life. They meet and develop a relationship that is plagued by his dangerous jumps through time and the absences that follow.
Niffeneger does a great job of giving the reader an appreciation of Chicago, where the story takes place.
The novel is a modern twist on a romance, though it is dark occasionally, as the future is at times both better and worse than it seems. However, it comes out as strikingly realistic in its portrayal of the hardships and rewards of a relationship.
“I hate to be where she is not, when she is not. And yet, I am always going, and she cannot follow,” says Henry.
There is a question of free will for the characters. Clare had no choice in knowing Henry because he was always visiting her. But at the same time, he only visited her because he knew her in the real world.
The novel’s greatest strength is that it gives a human side to what time traveling can do to a person. Henry has to learn to fend for himself in the world by stealing. He also had to deal with loneliness and involuntarily leaving Clare.
Henry and Clare display the power of love in how they care for each other. “Why is love intensified by absence?” says Clare on the difficulty of living with a man who constantly disappears.
The Time Traveler’s Wife was Niffeneger’s first novel and it does not disappoint. The novel will be regarded as a classic love story because of its rich character development, its accessibility to the reader and for thematically displaying the power of love in difficult times.