“I feel at the beginning of something. I feel ready to care, and be hurt, and take a risk on living.”
For 439 year-old Tom Hazard, time has begun to overlap and he increasingly finds himself caught between centuries; between the past and present. Due to a rare condition, he ages more slowly than the average human – while he appears to be around four decades old, he was actually born over four centuries ago.
How to Stop Time not only follows Tom throughout history but across the world as he reinvents himself time and time again to keep his condition a secret. He travels from Europe to America to Oceania, encountering historical figures from the likes of William Shakespeare to James Cook.
Matt Haig’s writing is (as always) thought-provoking, poignant and almost philosophical. How to Stop Time provides an insight into human behaviour, love, and time – which its main character describes time as a weapon. Tom’s condition threatens the safety of those he cares for so he must follow one rule: he must not fall in love.
His story is laced with fear and danger, but most of all, loneliness. Tom thinks of himself as something dangerous, knowing from past experience how his secret can hurt the people around him. However, while the novel’s ending feels somewhat rushed, it is hopeful, optimistic and heart-warming.
“History was – is – a one way street. You have to keep walking forwards, but you don’t always need to look ahead. Sometimes you can just look around and be happy right where you are.”
Also, it is well worth listening to the audiobook version of this novel. The narrator, Mark Meadows, sings at various points throughout the story and adopts a number of different accents to tell this thoughtful and sincere story.
“Everything is going to be, and every moment lasts forever. It lives on somewhere, somehow.”