A Way Back To Then is a continuation of sorts of the Tales From Foster High series and addresses the life of a key secondary character in the series. That being said, you can’t have one (A Way Back To Then) without the others.
Riley and Robbie left Long Island where they met in school for Foster, Texas. Although Riley was quickly reintegrated, Robbie had more difficulty fitting in and finding work, eventually getting a job at the second-hand store that he ultimately came to own.
Years later, a broken Robbie has closed up shop and returned to Long Island alone following Riley’s death. He is hoping for a fresh start, and once back on Long Island, attempts to put the past behind him and reconnect with his family and friends.
Although Robbie’s goal is to move forward with his life, getting set up by his sister Nicole, may be too much, too soon. The fiasco that is the blind date ends up in Robbie’s bedroom, and the following morning, Sebastien finds the picture of Robbie and Riley that Robbie had hidden the night before. Somehow in the awkwardness of the morning after, the story of Robbie, Riley, and Foster, Texas come out. Now the question is whether Robbie can open his heart to the possibilities and whether Sebastien handle the truth.
Robbie was a favorite character of mine in the original series. I loved his wit and personality from the first time we met him in Tales From Foster High, and I was pleased and surprised that his story was being introduced at this time. I say pleased because to me, Robbie was an integral character, and surprised because the story was written by an author other than John Goode. Would Halliwell do the story justice, that was the question…
Written as a retrospective, the present and past come together, giving us a firm idea of who Robbie DeCaro was as a partner, son, brother, and nephew. I found the parallel between Robbie and his Uncle James, both of whom lost their loves and had great difficulty dealing with the pain, was effective and I also that Halliwell masterfully addressed the other secondary characters, like Sebastien, Nicole, and Robbie’s mother, giving them life and letting their personalities shine without taking away from the main focus of the book.
As much as I enjoyed the story, there were a few things that caught my eye and pulled me out of the book, such as when Robbie thought to himself that Sebastien worked in IT department when we had already been told he worked in the mailroom. Now it took a while, but I eventually figured out it was intentional, a flub on the part of Robbie, and not of the writing. I also had some difficulty wrapping my mind around the quick progression of Robbie and Sebastien’s relationship, although here too, some additional context was provided that smoothed it out, but wow, it sure was quick.
In the end, it feels like all of the loose threads of this arc have being tied up all nice and pretty, even if the reality of Robbie’s situation is anything but nice or pretty. The story is an excellent addition to the Foster High series, and kudos to Halliwell for achieving a seamless addition that added so much to the whole.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.