Time Traitor is a historical novel written for middle schoolers, but don’t let that stop you from experiencing this exciting, well-researched story. It’s an adventure that moves back and forth from the present day to colonial times.
We meet the main characters right away. Kristi and Ty are misfit students at George Washington Prep, a fictitious exclusive boarding school in southwest Pennsylvania.
Ty, whose British mother dies soon after marrying a wealthy US citizen, is left in the care of his cold, distant stepfather. He is small for his age and a victim of bullying. All Ty wants is to disappear into the pages of the historical biographies he loves to read, far away from the pain of his mother’s death, blow-hard teachers and the bullies who make every day at school miserable.
Kristi, on the other hand, hates history. She thinks of it as nothing but crusty old names and dusty books. She’s a wealthy African-American student who is full of anger at her father for leaving her mother. Kristi wants her daddy’s attention and the only way she seems to be get it is by getting into trouble (and she's very good at that.) She focuses her energy on tormenting her ill-tempered history teacher, Dr. Arnold.
Kristi and Ty are an unlikely pair, but together they discover Dr. Arnold’s time machine and his plot to go back to colonial times. To protect his secret, Dr. Arnold transports them back to the middle of the Revolutionary War. He wants to alter the outcome of the war to clear the name of his infamous relative, Benedict Arnold, a scheme that puts their lives in danger.
It’s exciting to read about how Kristi and Ty manage to survive against all odds in Colonial times. They are rescued by a farmer named Stephen, who, like them, is a time traveler. Stephen disappeared years ago when he discovered Dr. Arnold’s time machine as a student at MIT while Dr. Arnold was a professor there. He transported Stephen to the past to keep him quiet. Stephen eventually married warm and kind Martha. Their son was killed in the Revolutionary War. Martha doesn’t understand time travel and the future their visitors talk about in hushed tones.
I was riveted by the storytelling, which captured what it must have been like during the Revolutionary War. Affluent Kristi is shocked to have been treated like a slave just because of her skin color. Ty has to be careful not to be mistaken for a spy because of his British accent.
Time Traitor brings in enough history to enhance the reader’s interest and understanding of the beginnings of our country better than dry textbook passages ever could. And it’s a page-turner full of plot-twists. Will Kristi and Ty thwart Arnold’s mad scheme to alter American history? Will they ever make it back home?