Fatechanger, Book One: Penny Lost - Book Review

Fatechanger, Book One: Penny Lost

Author: L.M. Poplin
Genre: Young Adult - Fantasy/Sci-Fi
Publisher: Black Rose Writing
Date Published: May 23, 2019
ISBN-10: 1684332786
ISBN-13: 9781684332786

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Book Review of :  Fatechanger, Book One: Penny Lost


L.M.Poplin’s YA novel, Fatechanger, Book One: Penny Lost is an engaging story of a Fourteen-year-old Penelope Clark who is a blend of a female version of Richard Collier of “Somewhere in Time" and Yentl Mendel. The story begins with Penn a sickly, friendless teenage girl having the hots for one young man but when she decides to introduce herself to him, her attempt appears to fail. Devastated, she runs off into the streets of Boston broken hearted.  She meets a strange withered woman who warns her of the power of a 1915 penny that Penn had in her possession. Penn dismisses the older woman’s message but suddenly and magically finds herself on the cobblestone streets of Boston in the year 1915. 

In this Boston of old, she is forced to fend for herself. She has no home, no medicine for her heart condition, no friends, and no money acceptable for use in 1915. She needs help, and luckily she gets some from a gang of pickpockets.  She has to learn to live on the 1915 streets of Boston. She has to learn to pickpocket and live by her wits. She has to learn to fight to survive. Penn is a great student of the arts of thievery and gains the admiration of the band of pickpockets. The leader of the group of pickpockets is a somewhat mysterious well-read man referred to as Joe. Fourteen-year-old Penelope is also a lover of books and compares Joe and his boys to Robin Hood and his Merry Men. Joe takes the comparison as a compliment because, like Robin Hood, he finds many societal norms unfair to those who are born into poverty. He is the embodiment of many things good; he is generous, pious, and courteous and dislikes those who are stingy, lazy, rich, unsympathetic to the unfortunate and churlish in character.

To complicate Penn’s existence in 1915, she must also dress and act like a boy just as Yentl Mendel did in the story Yentl. She also is cursed with a defective heart and other serious medical issues which were untreatable in 1915.  To survive, she would have to find a way to get back to 2019.

Regardless of all the issues, she faced in 1915; she enjoys her exciting new life. She excels as a thief, finds friendship with those she works with and also finally experiences the true affection of a young man who appears to have romantic feelings for her. She finds a lot of things to like in 1915, and maybe it’s where she should stay and embrace since she has no idea of how to return to 2019.  Could she use a coin from 2019 to catapult her back to the future like Richard Collier did in “Somewhere in Time?”

The book touches on many aspects of the pre-World War I time period, things such as the suffrage movement, the introduction of motor vehicles into a world used to horse-drawn carriages and very indigenous things like drinking Moxie a true New England drink of the time.

Fatechanger is well written and delivers a very entertaining story to those lucky enough to discover this gem.  I found it a very charming story.

Reviewed by: Dave H

About L.M. Poplin

When she's not writing or traveling or riding her bike, L. M. Poplin can be found teaching classes in writing and literature at Berklee College of Music. She has also co-founded, with two of her favorite authors, L'ATELIER Writers--a non-profit literary retreat and workshop based in France. Born and raised in California, she now lives in a triple-decker in Boston with her husband and son and cat.


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