‘Wrapped in the Past’ by Chess Desalls is a cleverly crafted time travel tale. It’s a Christmas story wrapped inside a Christmas story, and a book that is sure to appeal to smart readers of all ages. I have wanted to try listening to an audiobook for awhile; I have also been wanting to read one of Chess Desalls’ books. This was a great opportunity to do both. I enjoyed the voices of the storyteller and the author, and I thought they came together in a way that was easy and fun to listen to. Desalls brought the story to life with her creative look at time travel, and her diverse cast of relatable characters. Janine Haynes added her own unique touch, breathing new life into the tale with her colorful narration. The narrator played her own part in the telling, and it was a welcome addition.
Shirlyn is a girl on the verge of becoming a young woman, being raised in a loving home where nearly anything seems possible. Her mother is a sweet and nurturing woman, her father a caring but somewhat disconnected genius. Rather than give his family a normal gift for Christmas, he arranges a trip in their yacht. But this is no ordinary yacht; it takes them back in time, and transforms to a more appropriate mode of transport. They find themselves in Bethlehem, directly in the path of three magi on their way to meet a very special newborn. They are riding a camel now, and join the historical procession for a while.
Her father has prepared for the trip: he knows how to act, and has learned enough of the tongue to communicate with the magi. His wife and daughter are not so well prepared, it being a Christmas surprise for them. They are left to find adventure in something other than what is being said. When adventure finds them, it is a little more than they had bargained for. Their camel bolts when they stop to rest and say goodbye, and the family is faced with being trapped in the past without it. Fortunately the magi are understanding, and wish to be helpful; they mount up with them, and head off to find the camel/yacht that will get them home.
Shirlyn finds herself riding with Balthazar, and realizes that he is both young and handsome. She begins to consider the rules of time travel, as her father has so carefully explained them, and how unfair they are. Although she knows that leaving the wrong kind of thing behind is forbidden, it is just the kind of thing Shirlyn most wants to leave. Without it her connection to Balthazar will fade from his memory forever, and so will she. It is too difficult of a thought to imagine, as they grow closer and the bond deepens.
She searches for a way to keep both her father and her own heart happy as the search continues. It becomes increasingly evident that this young woman is more obsessed with the contents of her heart than with the rules as the story moves along. What begins as a harmless teen’s desire takes a dark turn, and desire becomes obsession. It’s a beautiful and unpredictable ride, from beginning to end.
I thoroughly enjoyed ‘Wrapped in the Past’; it made me wonder what more this curious author has written on the subject. Clearly she has thought deeply about the endless repercussions implied, and has found a way to dance across that line at least once in this book. The world that she explores and explains is as fun to get to know as the characters living in it, and I look forward to the chance to see what kind of angle she approaches ‘Travel Glasses’ from. I would highly recommend ‘Wrapped in the Past’ to readers of any age, particularly to those interested in time travel and its many consequences.