Time Travel & BFF Struggles: 5 Fun Facts About The Retake

Have you ever wished you could have a do-over? Maybe there’s a bad day you’d like to try again or a really embarrassing moment you wish you could erase? In The Retake by Jen Calonita, Zoe gets the chance to do just that in this time travel story with a techie twist!

Middle school is never easy, especially when your once inseparable friendship with your BFF is starting to fall apart. Zoe can totally relate – she and her bestie Laura used to do everything together, and now Laura is sitting at a new lunch table and rarely answers Zoe’s texts. After an incident getting caught with her phone at school, Zoe has her phone taken away, but when it’s returned to her, she discovers a magical new app that’s been installed. This app already has all of her photos loaded into it, and by hitting the back arrow, she can travel back in time to the moments where she and Laura started drifting apart and retake the moment as if she’s retaking a photo!

Zoe knows that the only thing harder than middle school is losing a best friend. She and Laura used to do everything together from taking silly selfies, to joining all the same clubs together and even throwing surprise birthday parties for one another.

But lately things have been weird between them. Now Laura will post a photo of her hanging out with other girls before responding to Zoe’s simple text. She doesn’t even want to sit with her at lunch anymore. Zoe is heartbroken–all she wants is for things to go back to normal.

But then a magical app downloads on her phone…and things get even weirder! Suddenly Zoe can travel back in time to moments where her and Laura started drifting apart. It is like a dream come true. A chance for Zoe to mend their friendship.

But as Zoe goes back to moments of middle school drama–sleepover games gone wrong, field trips with cliques and crushes, and school projects that bring on more-than-awkward encounters–she realizes that second chances don’t always go as planned and that sometimes you need to trust the magic of new beginnings.

The Retake is a picture-perfect look at tween friendship, that also explores more serious themes of social media pressure, bullying and what it means to be yourself.

The Retake
AUTHOR: Jen Calonita
PUBLISHER: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
DATE: February 23, 2021

Life doesn’t really work that way, though, and re-doing a moment doesn’t always mean a picture-perfect outcome. As she relives all her messy moments, friend drama, and crush disasters, Zoe learns to trust herself and find happiness in new beginnings instead of dwelling on the past.

We absolutely love this super fun friendship story, and we think you will too! Want to know more about The Retake? Author Jen Calonita is here sharing 5 Fun Facts about the book and her real-life moments that sparked the story!

Author Jen Calonita Shares 5 Fun Facts About The Retake:

(Image via @jencalonita)
FACT #1:

In The Retake, Zoe gets her phone taken away when she’s caught using it in school. When the phone is returned to her, she finds a strange app on her phone that has all of her pictures in it already. Underneath each picture is a backward arrow button. Zoe soon realizes that if she clicks on a picture from her past, she can time travel back to that moment and “retake” or redo the moment. Cool, huh?

I have always been a huge fan of time travel movies (Back to the Future and 17 Again are some of my favorites) and time travel books. If you haven’t read these YA titles yet, I highly recommend The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler and Gimme a Call by Sarah Mylnowski.

FACT #2:

When the first Back to the Future movie came out, my family was obsessed with it and wanted to buy a copy of the film when it came out on VHS (Yes, VHS! VHS tapes predated DVDs. Remember DVDs? They predated streaming services…you get the idea).

At the time of the film’s release, a VHS of the movie cost almost $100! My sister and I wanted the film so badly, she and I chipped in with our parents to buy a copy.

FACT #3:

In The Retake, my character Zoe is desperate to make things right with her best friend who has drifted away over summer vacation. Laura has a new group of friends now, and she hasn’t invited Zoe to hang out with them. Zoe is crushed by this. Her and Laura have been friends since kindergarten.

I drew on my own middle school experiences to paint this picture of Zoe. In elementary school, I was great friends with a girl named Elpida. We sat at the same lunch table with a group of other girls. One day, for a reason I cannot remember, I got really upset and felt like I couldn’t sit at that lunch table anymore. I picked up my lunch tray and moved to a new table and a new group of friends. I don’t remember Elpida and I having a big fight or anything, but I do remember thinking our friendship was over. We were always friendly to each other when we saw each other in high school, but that closeness we had disappeared. I always missed our friendship and wondered often what would have happened if I had done things differently. Until…

(Image Provided by Jen Calonita)
FACT #4:

When Elpida and I grew up and were in our thirties, I got a message from her on Facebook. The two of us were both married and had children, and we made plans to get together. We hit it off again right away and Elpida is now one of my closest friends on the planet! The two of us actually pushed each other to take up running and have done several half-marathons together (13.1 miles of running!). We train together and run for a pediatric cancer charity called Kellsie’s Hope Foundation. (Here is a picture of us in front of Cinderella’s Castle in Walt Disney World halfway through the Disney Princess Half-Marathon run.)

We talk about me leaving the lunch table and neither of us can remember why our friendship faded away. All I can say is that friendships, like all relationships, have their ups and downs, but true friendship lasts a lifetime. Elpida and I are proof of that. (Oh, and the reason Zoe is named Zoe is because that’s the name of Elpida’s daughter!)

FACT #5:

The Zoe in the book “retakes” several moments from her past to try to change her relationship with Laura. If I had the chance to retake any moment of my own, I would tell seventh grade me a few things:

–Don’t get that perm. Your hair will never be the same again.

–Don’t quit kickline because you’re intimidated by the other girls on the team. You like kickline! Keep working at it and stick with it.

–And stop judging yourself so much. You’re stronger and braver than you even realize.

In need of even more amazing reads to add to your book stack? Check out Living the Confidence Code, a brand new book spotlighting the stories of 30 real girls who’ve overcome bullying, built their own businesses, and made their voices heard!

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