The Jewel and the Key

by Louise Spiegler

Reviewed by Margaret Donsbach

The Jewel and the Key by Louise Spiegler Set mostly in Seattle in the near future, The Jewel and the Key dips back into Seattle's past. Addie longs to act in her high school play, but the roles go to a snooty clique of girls. The U.S. is starting a foreign war, and Addie's friend Whaley plans to enlist. She loves Whaley like a brother and can't bear to let that happen.

In a disused closet in her father's bookstore, Addie discovers a cache of vintage clothing and an old mirror. She tries on one of the dresses and admires the mirror. On its back, "Three dancers wearing long flowing dresses were etched in the tarnished silver. Their hair was bound and wreathed like Greek goddesses', and the silversmith had sketched a grove of laurel and olive trees behind them."

Readers might realize the mirror has sent Addie back in time long before Addie herself does. To readers familiar with fantasy novels, she may seem dense, even though an accidental time traveler would probably feel just as disoriented and disbelieving as she does. The past echoes the story's present. In 1917, the United States was entering World War I. Union organizers known as the "Wobblies" angered people by demonstrating against the war.

The Jewel and the Key gets off to a slow start with a lot of emphasis on war protests in which Addie is not directly involved. The story picks up steam when she learns her time travel could help restore a beautiful old theater. Her wish to protect Whaley leads to a thoughtful exploration of the tension between wanting the best for a friend and respecting his right to make his own choices. (2011; 455 pages including an Author's Note separating fact from fiction)

More about The Jewel and the Key at Powell's Books or

Other YA time-travel novels:

Honus and Me: A Baseball Card Adventure by Dan Gutman (1997), about a twelve-year-old boy who travels back in time and plays in the 1909 World Series after discovering a valuable baseball card in an attic. More info

Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly (2010), about a modern teenage girl from New York whose father takes her to Paris, where she slips back in time after reading the diary of a French girl who was the companion to the doomed son of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. More info

11,000 Years Lost by Peni R. Griffin (2004), about a present-day Texas girl who accidentally slips back in time to prehistory and is taken in by a tribe of mammoth hunters. More info

Nonfiction about the Wobblies and Antiwar Protesters:

Wobblies! A Graphic History of the Industrial Workers of the World by Paul Buhle and Nicole Shulman (2005). More info

The Antiwar Movement by Randy Scherer (2004), about antiwar movements from the 1800s on. More info


Industrial Workers of the World about the "Wobblies" at

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