"For me, what stands out about Seven Stitches
is the fascinating blend of time travel to the ancient past, combined with the depiction of life forty years in the future. Offhand, I can't think of other novels that share that mix. The modern daily life of Meryem and her friends and family is more recognizable than that in many stories that depict a more remote future. In this book, Feldman seems to have taken many trends we see today and extended them in a logical way, depicting a 2058 that I found very believable. Some details of this envisioned future life are really fun to picture, such as the indoor vertical garden which produced vegetables, and the roasted crickets snack mix! In this story, the time travel to the past is episodic, with Meryem going to Istanbul three times. On these journeys, vivid details about clothing and make the story come alive. At times, I got confused about the lineage/names of people in Istanbul, but I found I could understand the narrative just fine without stopping to sort it out. I liked the Jewish history woven into this history of ancient Turkey. Meryem is a believable main character. She is often depressed and irritable, which is understandable, given that she is suffering from the kind of suspended grieving that one must go through when one has a family member that disappears. There are also some very endearing supporting characters, my favorite being a formerly homeless military vet named Mr. Rivera. Mr. Rivera may or may not have a mental illness, but in any case is able to use his reputation as being crazy to help others when the authorities threaten the well-being of Meryem's household. The story manages to touch on several "PC" issues, including feminism, LGBTQ issues, vegetarianism, etc., so left-leaning readers will find a lot to smile about. Of course, the pet goats were icing on the cake. I really did not know how several threads in the plot (forgive me, it's almost impossible not to use a pun when reviewing this book) were going to resolve until the very end of the story. I wouldn't have known about this great book had I not seen this great list on timetravelnexus.com. (Thanks, Craig.)" --Susan Olson, Time Travel Times Two
"On March 9, 2058, at 4:47 p.m. Greenwich Mean Time, the long-predicted Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake hits the Oregon Coast, registering 8.9 on the Richter scale. A year later, the city of Portland is still living under emergency restrictions and a young woman mourns her missing mother. But Meryem Zarfati, struggling to find her place in the new order, is called away to save the life of a young girl by a mysterious messenger from the past and an antique Jewish prayer shawl passed down through her mother's family. Seven Stitches
, the third young adult fiction novel in the Blue Thread
series by Ruth Tenzer Feldman, envisions a possible future for Portland after the massive earthquake scientists say is long overdue. Meryem Zarfati is drawn out of her grief in her attempts to save a young girl in 16th century Istanbul from a life of slavery. But the gifts of her ancestors also enable her to make a difference in the life of a girl in her own time, and to discover the truth about her mother's disappearance. Tenzer Feldman, a Portland resident, has also written 10 non-fiction books for children and young adults, as well as science and history articles. Seven Stitches
showcases the author's formidable research skills and her ability to interweave the past, present and future in a way that informs young people as it entertains." —East Oregonian Book Review
"The monster quake known as the Big One hits Portland on March 9, 2058, shattering Meryem's world in this postapocalyptic story. Not giving up hope that her mother, Jessa, is still alive, Meryem faithfully tries to contact her through her PerSafe code. Other folks come to live in her house as part of disaster relief planning, including a grandmother and a great-aunt whose housing has been damaged. Feldman has penned an intricate tale about a family and community coping after catastrophe and the myriad survival issues involved on the path forward. As in Feldman's previous novels, a time-travel element sends Meryem deep into the past to act upon a social-justice issue; this time, she helps a young slave girl in sixteenth-century Istanbul reach safety. It's a crowded novel for sure, and the twenty-first-century narrative is the stronger parallel story. The futuristic details of the 2050s will engage readers, and the beautifully rendered Meryem, as she comes to terms with devastation and grief, will win hearts." --Anne O'Malley, Booklist Online
"In 2013, Portland author Ruth Tenzer Feldman won an Oregon Book Award for her young adult novel "Blue Thread," in which a woman named Serakh travels forward through time until she reaches early-20th-century Portland, where she helps a teenager involved in the women's rights campaign. Now Feldman has released the third book in her Blue Thread Saga series, "Seven Stitches" (Ooligan Press, 300 pages, $14.95). This time Serakh visits a teenage girl living in a mid-21st-century Portland that's been devastated by a major earthquake. The storyline is ambitious: In addition to exploring how we recover and rebuild after disaster, Feldman tackles affordable and equitable housing, social justice and mental health issues - with a highly diverse cast of characters to boot. Here's an excerpt from "Seven Stitches." --Amy Wang, "Teen novel imagines life in Portland after the Big One," Oregon Live Chosen as "The Book" on Portland Monthly's February Pop Culture Hot List: "Ruth Tenzer Feldman (Powell's on Hawthorne, February 20) takes on life after the Big One in Seven Stitches, her third novel in the award-winning Blue Thread YA series. This time, the protagonist searches for her mother in the wake of the Cascadia subduction zone earthquake--and time-travels back to 16th-century Istanbul."
"Meryem Zarfati, 16, is the granddaughter of a Turkish American Jew living in Portland, OR, in the 2050s. Struggling with her mother's disappearance after The Big One-an 8.9 magnitude earthquake--she continues to search for her and refuses to give up hope. The biracial teen meets the mysterious time-traveling Serakh. In the midst of frustration and uncertainty, and with Serakh's help, Meryem is able to save Izabel, a girl living in captivity in 16th-century Istanbul. She also discovers the truth about her lost mother. The 2050s setting is entertaining and insightful. Social media is outdated; due to global warming, February has become the new March; in the restaurants and cafes, the MyMenu tablet features "pixel-perfect images of butterscotch custard, cinnamon rolls, and apple pie;" and there's finally peace in the Middle East. This elegantly written narrative will capture and delight readers. However, in the interest of historical accuracy, the exact era in which the novel is set and the specific details of that historical period needs more documentation in the author's note. Also, Meryem's character development as a young woman with a strong desire to push the limits for other young women in ancient history is admirable. However, Izabel, a Turkish character, is represented as incapable of saving herself without the magical help of others, even though she's initially described as competent. Verdict:
A strong addition to diverse speculative fiction." --Taraneh Matloob Haghanikar of University of Northern Iowa, School Library Journal
"Seven Stitches, by Ruth Tenzer Feldman (Ooligan Press, Feb. 2017), is both a time travel story and a gripping YA novel about a girl coping with the loss of her mother that's set in a near future America. The year is 2058, the place is Portland, and the global warming has not been kind, but has not yet been catastrophic. Meryem and her biologist mom live in a big old house and keep chickens and goats; things are much like now, only different in believable ways. But then the earthquake hits, the Big One. And Meryem's mom was down on the coast that day, and she doesn't come home. Months pass with no word, but Meryam can't give up hope. Her home has been filled by other people—her African American/Vietnamese/Jewish grandmother and her great aunt have moved in, people in need of shelter have been rehoused under her roof, and Bandon, a young man who's part of a forbidden organization fighting homelessness, has shown up to offer the services of his male goat to Meryem's surviving female one, and ends up staying too.
Meryam throws herself into the busyness of everyday life as best she can, but can barely distract from her conviction that her mother is still alive. Reading along, I expected Bandon to be a typical YA distraction, and Meryam to find connections to her grandmother, and for her to find some big sense of purpose, and to an extent these things happen. . .except that Bandon is gay (and says so right at the beginning), her grandmother not really the connecting type, and her sense of purpose external to her own life is sort of a one shot deal.
But there's also the distraction of time travel. A mysterious woman, Serakh, shows up out of nowhere in Meryem's house, explaining that women in past generations of Meryem's family have been in the habit of time travelling to do necessary things in the past, and that now she has come to take Meryam back in the past to do a necessary thing--to save a little girl in 16th century Constantinople from slavery. And there in the past the thread of her own story is twisted, all to briefly, with a bit of her mother's. Time travel with Serakh is made easy with universal language comprehension, and though there are difficulties and twists to the adventure in the past that made things interesting, I didn't read it with the same intent immersion as I did the story of Meryam's present day life.
That being said, it's a book I recommend with conviction (I read it first in January, and have just now read it again, and didn't mind in the least!) but I'm not convinced that the time travel is sufficiently integrated into the central narrative of Meryem's life. I think that even if it were cut out completely, there'd still be a really good, really solid YA sci-fi-ish story to enjoy. That being said, I didn't mind the time travel, and it does give both Meryam and the reader plenty of food for thought. . .but it was fairly mundane time travel compared to the details of Meryem's real life which I found much more interesting (this could be just me, as I tend to enjoy lots of description of mundane details of house and garden tasks, which is perhaps Sad, as Donald Trump would say, but there it is). So in the end, I'd really suggest reading this one for a fascinating near future YA growing up/coping with grief story, at which it excels!
This is the third book by Ruth Tenzer Feldman about Serakh and the blue thread that binds her to Meryem's family, the others being Blue Thread, and The Ninth Day, both of which I'm going to look for now for future timeslip Tuesdays!"
—Charlotte's Library Blog