So stoked! I found this YA sci-fi classic by Lester del Rey the other day. I read it for the first time when I was around ten or eleven, and it was one of those books. If you’re an avid reader you know what I mean—the ones that you completely lose yourself in, and for the rest of your life your thoughts drift back to them again and again.
Those gems are rare, even when you read a lot, like I do. Don’t get me wrong, there are a ton of books I’ve read and loved over the years. But there are only a handful that manage to hit that elusive sweet spot. Three others that come to mind right off the bat are The Stand by Stephen King, Time and Again by Jack Finney, and Boy’s Life by Robert McCammon. I’m not sure, but I think, as important as story is, sometimes it also happens to be where you are and what’s going on in your life at the time that makes certain books stay with you.
Like I said, I was around ten or so when I read Tunnel Through Time. I lived in Indiana then, far out in the country. Our TV was on the fritz that summer and my dad was laid off so we couldn’t afford a new one. I hated my dad being out of work, not because of the lack of money but because he was always around, and he and my step-mom fought constantly, especially after they’d had a few drinks. A lot of the time I just escaped into the deep woods that surrounded our house back then. (I went back once, a few years ago, and all those trees had been cut down for lumber, or farmland, or whatever the fuck. Progress, huh?)
But sometimes I retreated to my room and read (or wrote). Around one of those times, I found this book, or it found me. It’s about this boy named Bob Miller whose father, Sam, is a physicist and inventor. The father and son get along famously. And when Sam’s friend, Doc Tom, gets trapped in the past in a time travel experiment, Sam trusts Bob and Doc Tom’s son, Pete, to go after him.
I remember lying on my bed reading this book while summer rain fell outside my window. I don’t know if that’s a true memory or not, and it doesn’t really matter. I remember it that way, and that makes it mine.
I love this book, and for much more than just the story, though I love that too. It’s my own little time machine that I can take back to a time where I found a magic hiding place, a good place where no one could find me in the midst of that not-so-good place.
Love, trust, and escape, not to mention wild adventure and dinosaurs. What wasn’t to love for a little boy who would have given anything to be anywhere else but where he was?
No wonder I love books so much.
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