Okay, I’m still reeling from the fact that I made this banner for you years ago, and now you’ve somehow found my review thread. What are the chances? Anyway, I’ve been excited to read something of yours for a while now, ever since I’ve heard amazing things about “Stand Tall,” and I’m so glad that I have that opportunity now!
And let me just tell you, after reading through this chapter, I was absolutely mindblown by the originality of this story. I literally sat here for like ten minutes, trying to wrap my head around how brilliantly intricate this storyline is. This is honestly so amazing. I am so, so impressed omg. Wow. (Can you tell I’ve lost all coherence haha.) And, if I’m being honest (this is a ridiculous sentiment so brace yourself), I’m so proud that I made a banner for such an accomplished story?? Like, wow.
There are so many thoughts running through my head, as well as a number of questions, but what I love about this story is that it seems to be the type of tale that unravels more of its secrets as you go along, so that details that are confusing at first gradually make more and more sense as the story continues. YOU DO THIS SO WELL. Even though, obviously, not everything was revealed, you left just enough clues for it to fit together, while also leaving out the right amount to make me hungry for more. So right now, I’m going to list some of my speculations and questions (and if I get some stuff wrong, please know that it’s not your fault at all, and that I am in Hufflepuff and not Ravenclaw for a reason haha).
So, to start: Penny is someone who has no control of where she goes in time. I think the last section of this chapter is most telling, where there can be two Pennys, of different ages, in the same place at the same time. And through time, Penny generally either visits her father, her mother, or Albus.
I’m going to assume that Penny gets her time-traveling abilities from her mother, because Penny says, “...it was his sweetness that kept her coming back to him, time and time again.” And it makes sense, too, because perhaps that’s the reason why her mom was so sad when two-year-old Penny reappeared, because she didn’t want her little daughter to live the same life. Though, my guess has a flaw in it, which is that if her mother also is randomly pulled through time (unless her mother has better control over it?) I don’t see how Older Penny would ever get the chance to meet with her mother. But there’s a very good chance that I’m wrong about this haha, so uh feel free to ignore me entirely.
I was just going to say that I should review this in chronological order, before I realized that there is no chronological order, so I’m just going to be rambling a lot, and hopefully I’ll touch on enough of my thoughts!
Basically, if the concept of time could be mapped out onto paper, you would be able to trace Penny’s path throughout the years with a single line, and I think that’s just utterly brilliant. I swear, if there was a story in the world that could launch us into the fourth dimension, this would be it. I love how she’s growing older at a regular pace, even though she’s being hurtled across eras (I’m so curious to see if there’s an explanation for how she ended up this way, but if not, I’m happy with that too), and I love how you write her perspectives from these different ages. She sounds properly young when her youngest self meets Albus for the first time, and she sounds significantly more mature once she’s in her twenties, and I think that it’s amazing you managed to achieve that.
Another thing I wanted to comment upon is Albus and Penny’s relationship. In that first scene, the meet-cute was so sweet. I thought it was hilarious how Albus reacted to her, and that he totally thought she was a complete weirdo at first, even though to Penny, she’s known Albus (albeit an older version) for almost all her life. I also thought it was so funny when thirteen-year-old Penny stumbled into the same time frame as Young Albus, and was low-key making fun of her older self’s taste in men lmao. (I loved that meeting between Rose and Young Penny. It must’ve been a complete shock for Rose hahaha.) And then obviously when Penny is in her twenties, and comes across Young Albus again, they end up in a more mature relationship together.
I feel like the nature of this relationship, being as idiosyncratic as it is, poses a lot of questions that I think are super interesting to think about. It’s very paradoxical, so...which came first? Albus, as an old grandfather, already loved Penny, even as he was taking care of her as a four-year-old. (Though I’m hoping he only thought of little Penny in a platonic sense because my goodness.) And in some ways, I think it’s his love for her growing up that makes her love him. But he never would’ve loved her if she hadn’t (with the full confidence of his love in mind) come barging into his younger self’s bookstore. PARADOXES ARE FUN.
This review is already getting pretty ridiculous in length, but I just wanted to say one more thing: your writing is beautiful. I loved that introduction where Albus is thinking in metaphors, and where Penny is musing vaguely on her life. The descriptions throughout are just wonderfully written, every time Penny visits a new place or meets someone new. Really, this story is absolutely amazing. I’m so glad that you sent it to me!
You were saying that this would either be awful or amazing, and it definitely falls into the “amazing” camp. I love this so much. <3
I’m so very glad I did find it though! I wanted you to see the characters you brought to life for me! Lol.
I will say that the story line is a pain in the butt sometimes. When writing this piece I write in sections of time and then have to go back and say “ok, this goes first, followed by a reiteration of plot point B, switch times to reinforce contrasting behaviors/feelings, DO NOT LOOSE THE READER, comic relief” lol. Then think about how I did all this before Cursed Child came out, and how perfectly it fits with Albus’s plot line hahaha I am excited about adding some of that I’m in The Middles
There is SOOOO MUCH to unravel. And yes, every little detail is important. Sometimes when I’m reading through I get excited about the little Easter eggs. And some of them aren’t even going to major, like that flower pot she threw up in. I have plans for that 😂not grandiose plans, but it has a backstory.
I am glad to report that you will be able to see more of Penny’s mother and father, and the story of their relationship will not remain in shadows, nor will the reason for Penny’s time traveling remain a mystery. I actually really love Pennys mother and I feel kind of bad for sending her child on such crazy adventures, but that’s what happens when you’re a fictional character.
Chronological order? I laugh in the face of chronological order! (*insert tiny lion laugh*) 😁 changing back and forth between two original voices while both voices are jumping in age is probably the most difficult thing about writing this, honestly. When I write, I sound like me. When Albus is the active POV it can’t be like me writing or Penny won’t sound original. I really only have three versions of Albus’s voice- novice Penny handler, intermediate, and Master Penny handler. Penny has A BILLION. So high maintenance. Lol.
ALL THE PARADOXES!
Thank you you so much for reviewing this (and nominating it!!), it’s really good to get some feedback.