Fifty in Reverse

Written by Bill Flanagan
Review by Katie Stine

In this time-travel novel, Peter Wyatt, age 65 in the year 2020, wakes up in the body of his fifteen-year-old self in the year 1970. Wyatt is a nice guy, loves his wife, his adult children, his years as a father and content curator for a streaming music service. But if you woke up in your childhood bedroom, wouldn’t you think it was a dream? A chance to see your parents again? A chance to be carefree in the way only a child can? Or does it feel too uncertain, when you already took a path that led to happiness and contentment?

Peter Wyatt’s parents notice the sudden change in their son, now a fifteen-year-old who weeps while watching his mother make pancakes. After Peter takes off his clothes in math class, which he explains as an attempt to rouse himself out of the strange dream, his parents take him to a child psychologist. Enter Dr. Terry Canyon, a man who is the embodiment of the 1970s with his turquoise belt buckle, shaggy blonde hair, and Triumph motorcycle.

It’s through these sessions with Terry that the reader gets to know Peter, gets to see the frustrations he has with the rage of hormones, and the longing he has for the easy comfort of a thirty-year marriage.

The storytelling is uneven—there are chapters of lovely insight into the human condition, and wonderful depictions of longing and connection—but then there are characters and plotlines that get dropped in late into the story, feeling forced and awkward. The omniscient perspective is also troublesome, a craft element not quite mastered. Overall, Fifty in Reverse is a quick and enjoyable read, especially if you know Seventies rock.