Once Was A Time by Leila Sales | Book Review

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Once Was A Time by Leila Sales | Book ReviewOnce Was a Time by Leila Sales
Also by this author: Past Perfect, Tonight the Streets Are Ours
Published by Chronicle Books on April 5th 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy & Magic, Social Themes, Friendship, Social Issues
Pages: 272
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
ISBN: 9781452143774

In the war-ravaged England of 1940, Charlotte Bromley is sure of only one thing: Kitty McLaughlin is her best friend in the whole world. But when Charlotte's scientist father makes an astonishing discovery that the Germans will covet for themselves, Charlotte is faced with an impossible choice between danger and safety. Should she remain with her friend or journey to another time and place? Her split-second decision has huge consequences, and when she finds herself alone in the world, unsure of Kitty's fate, she knows that somehow, some way, she must find her way back to her friend. Written in the spirit of classic time-travel tales, this book is an imaginative and heartfelt tribute to the unbreakable ties of friendship.

Once Was A Time by Leila Sales is the book that convinced me I would be a fan of Sales no matter what she writes. This book is her middle grade debut, and yes, it is very good. I think if you are the sort of reader who is already disposed towards liking middle grade, you’ll love this tale of time travel and friendship within Once Was A Time. It is quite a special read that I ABSOLUTELY recommend. Also, how awesome to have another Leila Sales book in my life so close to finishing her last one, Tonight The Streets Are Ours. I feel spoiled, because now I want another but I am holding onto Mostly Good Girls for a special occasion.

Once Was A Time is about this girl named Lottie. When we open up the book, she’s in England with her father and brother and sister in Bristol. Their mom has gone away to London due to issues with her dad. Lottie worries though, because everyone is leaving London due to Luftwaffe air raids and such. However, despite this drama, Lottie knows she has one dependable thing in her life – her best friend Kitty who makes anagrams and refuses to join the Film Stars out of loyalty to Lottie. One day, after her dad, who is a physicist who researches time travel, has been missing, Kitty stays the night. The two girls hear a knocking at the door. A few things happen and in a moment of pivotal danger, Lottie goes through a portal and finds herself in America in 2013. She’s desperate to get back to her best friend. Will the two ever reunite? The journey to this answer is one worth taking.

Charlotte is a character that I think a lot of middle schoolers will relate to. She’s a reader – a huge one, who gets in trouble at school because she’s generally reading under her desk. She does some things, however, that are unfortunate but as part of her penance for abandoning Kitty. Charlotte makes a lot of mistakes and falls in with a not so great crowd – but that’s what makes her so relatable — the fact that even though she is bookish, she’s not perfect.


The absolute very best most special thing about Once Was A Time by Leila Sales was the aspect of friendship. I loved the kind of friendship that Charlotte and Kitty had — even off page when they are apart and it’s just Charlotte deeply missing Kitty. I thought that their friendship reminded me a lot of the one in Code Name Verity just for a much younger audience and well, not quite as sad. I’ll admit, I did tear up a little at the end, but because I was so heavily invested in the outcome.

In all, I really recommend Once Was A Time to any middle grade afficionado as well as anyone who enjoys books about friendships. This book is beautifully written with such a strong premise. Also, if you’re into time travel, I think you’ll have a soft spot for Sales’s latest book as well.

Other reviews of Once Was A Time by Leila Sales:

Book Sp(l)ot Reviews – “I really enjoyed Charlotte’s story

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About April (Books&Wine)

April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.

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