Review: Space Hopper by Helen Fisher

What are your thoughts on books with time travel as a central theme? I ask as in Space Hopper our lead character, Faye discovers that her old Space Hopper box (this is a Space Hopper, FYI) acts as a time travelling portal, allowing her to literally hop through space and time.

Opening sentence: The loss of my mother is like a missing tooth: an absence I can feel at all times, but one I can hide as long as I keep my mouth shut.

This is not sci-fi

I appreciate my opening paragraph may lead you to think that Space Hopper is a slice of sci-fi fiction, but it isn’t. It’s a beautiful exploration of faith, belief, loss and grief that cleverly uses the idea of time-travel to convey these conversations.

I’m sitting in a box in the photo, a Space Hopper box, and I look so much like a doll I could be climbing out of my packaging on Christmas morning.

Although Faye is happily married with two daughters, she feels a constant sense of loss due to the death of her mother when she was a child. She would do anything to be able to have one more day with her – and suddenly, she finds that she can. Her Space Hopper box transports her back to the 1970s, she meets herself as a child, has an emotional reunion with her mother and tries her best not to cause havoc and break the rules of time travel.

The power of faith

Faye’s husband, Eddie is training to be a vicar – so themes of belief are raised through the book. Why is it fine to believe in God but not to believe in the concept of time travel? Both abstract concepts when you think about it – whatever floats your boat, right?

I enjoyed how another way faith is explored is through Faye’s job. She works at the Royal National Institute of the Blind (RNIB) and her good friend Louis is blind, so his take on the world – how he ‘sees’ things and lives his life gives a different perspective too.

I’ve watched plenty of movies where the seemingly inexplicable was ultimately explained. I was hoping that would happen, right about… now.

Time travel questions

There are always a lot of questions that ping into my mind when time travel as a theme pops up in a story. It’s how believable I feel it all is that will really make the book a winner for me. Does Space Hopper achieve that? Yes, indeed.

I travelled back in time, and it was a bumpy ride. Could I have said that?

Space Hopper is a book that asks you to suspend your disbelief in the very best way (I got a few Alice in Wonderland vibes while reading too). It questions what it means to have faith and looks at how people deal with grief and loss in a wonderful way that mixes heartbreak and joy.

Faye presents her circumstances in such a sane, literal way that you find yourself understanding that sometimes letting people believe whatever they need to to get them through a day or situation is the only way. Space Hopper is a stunning debut from Helen Fisher, definitely a book I’m still pondering a little while after reading, one of my emotional big-hitters of the year already: gentle but powerful.

If you’re in the mood for other time travel related reads, I also loved Come Again by Robert Webb and Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi. 

Rating: 5 out of 5.

6 thoughts

  1. Ooh, this sounds fantastic! I’ve been looking for stories which give space to questions of faith, and I do like a time travel narrative, so I’ll have to check this one out. I’ve not read either Come Again or Before the Coffee Gets Cold, but I did enjoy Charles Yu’s How to Live Safely in a Science-Fictional Universe, which is set largely in a time machine, and explores aging, family, loss. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I think it was after reading your review of Before The Coffee Gets Cold it went on my wish list and I have just finished reading it and really enjoyed it. I am not one for science fiction but I do like how the idea of time travel acts as a way to explore relationships. This sounds really good. I am of an age where I remember space hoppers (just).

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