• Paperback Snob

Why we love powerful time-loop tale The Eternal Return of Clara Hart

Prepare to be blown away by this incredibly impressive debut from an exciting new voice in YA literature, Louise Finch. It's the story of Spence who is trapped in a time loop while he attempts to figure out the chain of events that leads to Clara Hart's death, and tries to create a better outcome for her and his friends. There are so many reasons to love The Eternal Return of Clara Hart but here are our top five...

1. It's a feminist story told from a male perspective It's so interesting that the main character is not only a boy but one who embarks on an epic journey of self-discovery, taking the reader along with them. And having a male main protagonist means that boys are more likely to read the book as well as pay attention to what it is saying. It’s quite unexpected to have a feminist story told from a male perspective and it makes this an empowering book for all readers.

2. Its message will resonate with – and help – readers of all genders and none

Feminist texts benefit all members of society and this one is no different. It challenges toxic masculinity (which is as detrimental to men as it is to women) and the culture of victim blaming, and shows how we can make the world a better place for everyone.

3. It highlights the importance of communication

The Eternal Return of Clara Hart demonstrates why it's crucial to be honest and open with ourselves as well as those around us. It shows how conversations about uncomfortable subjects are vital. It emphasises how talking – and listening – to our friends and family, even if we or they might not like what is being said, is essential for our wellbeing and that of those around us. 4. It shows that a sexist joke is never 'just' a joke A sexist, racist, ableist or otherwise derogatory joke is never just a joke and it always has wider ramifications and repercussions. By exploring the patterns of behaviour that surround not just the maker of the 'joke' but those who tolerate and even excuse it, this book shines a spotlight on the true nature, and the inherent damage, of these types of comments and jeers.

5. It's a powerful page-turner that will stay with you This book is so well-written and compelling and it tugs at the heartstrings without ever being heavy-handed or melodramatic. It's full of twists and turns and it has all the impact of a car crash – but I mean that in the best possible way! Because you see so many different scenarios play out for the various characters, you get to know them in a remarkably intimate and unusual way. It's so disappointing when Spence wakes up to discover nothing has changed and every time the characters have to go through with everything all over again, you really feel for them.

In addition to all of the above, this book gets a bonus point for being a time-loop tale. I find this aspect so compelling and refreshing. I don't know why, but time travel plots always hook me, especially when the traveller is visiting their own recent past. Using this narrative structure to tell this particular story helps the reader examine the different scenarios. It also holds a mirror up to the readers' own experiences, to their peers and to themselves.

Read our interview with author Louise Finch and learn all about the inspiration behind this book, and how the story came together

The Eternal Return of Clara Hart was published by Little Island on 4th August 2022 and is available everywhere books are sold - see this book on the publisher's website

Thanks so much to the lovely people in Little Island for sharing this sensational book with me in advance of publication - all opinions expressed are my own. Content note: this book does not contain any graphic scenes but the plot centres on sexual violence and it is mentioned more than once. This book is more suitable for older readers for this reason and please be aware of this content in case it is triggering for you or the person for whom you might be purchasing this book.