My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Punny, clever, and creative, The Lost Track of Time offers an inspirational message to young readers. Its style is reminiscent of The Phantom Tollbooth, so in a lot of ways it was nostalgic for me.
Leading lady Penelope dreams of becoming a writer, but her mother, who probably reads way too many blogs, just knows her future lies ahead in the fields of math and science. I can’t blame her for that line of thinking, but what irks me about her is her refusal to listen to her daughter’s ideas. They don’t share many of the same viewpoints when it comes to Penelope’s daily schedule, so when summer begins, Penelope’s plans include doodling and jotting down story ideas while her mother’s include filling every minute of every day with studying and productivity. Penelope desperately tries to prove to her parents she could become a successful author, but her tiring and overflowing schedule leaves her brain feeling muddled and dry, not to mention leaving her physically and mentally exhausted.
Penelope must find a way to get her creativity back while also proving to her mother and father she could have a successful future doing what she wants to do. Through her journey, she teaches some lessons imperative to anyone balancing a busy schedule. These practices are ones that always seem obvious, but they are ones that we often push aside in order to be more profitable.
1. You can’t make time, but you can and should reserve some time for yourself. I had to learn this lesson the hard way one semester when I was in college and trying to do too much for others while not doing enough for me. I worked for the newspaper, tutored student-athletes, took a full course-load, and was in a serious relationship. I was always tired, and although it did help me get where I am now, I’m lucky I only had to balance all that for 5 months. I constantly had bags under my eyes and had a short temper with everyone.
2. Time is both free and costly. We don’t pay money to have free time, but sometimes we do have to earn that free time by working overtime or putting in more work than usual in the hours we are at work. When we finally do get time to ourselves, we should make good use of that because we won’t get it back, so when we decide to binge watch The Office for the third time instead of visiting our grandparents, we need to ask ourselves which is more meaningful in the end. Spending hours with a book or my computer is usually more satisfying to me than spending hours at my grandmother’s watching Hallmark movies, but for someone who spends so much time alone, that small amount of time spent with family can bring about days and even weeks of happiness and memories.
3. The time is always now. There is literally no time like the present. Instead of saying, “In the future I will…” or, “One day I will…” we should get off our butts and do what we dream of doing. If we want to be a world traveler, we need to check our bank accounts, start packing, and look for the next flight to Iceland. If we want to be a writer, we need to stop being so afraid of failing and just start writing and asking for feedback because pretty soon now will be the past, and I don’t want to look back wishing I had spent my time more wisely. I realize not everyone knows what they want to do, even at 25. I feel like the world tells us we should know what we want to do before we get into college, but I’m starting to see that as a false speculation. These days people do not set out to be in a typical career that could be found on a card in The Game of Life. With so many niche markets, any random set of skills one possesses could ensure success and happiness in the right field. So maybe “getting off your butt” means being mindful of what your skills are and on the lookout for what it is you really want to do. Success is relative. We no longer need a world definition of success. If we decide we are successful, then we are.
Although it is middle grade fiction, if read with the right mindset, it could serve as inspiration for anyone who has pipe dreams and has yet to pursue them. Yes, the writing grew repetitive and tiresome, but the ideas will probably resonate because of it. If anything, Penelope has taught me we are all writers of our own stories, and we get to decide whether we are successful or not.
Goodreads Rating: 3.85
Recommended for: Pipe Dreamers, Timekeepers, Storytellers