Departure Time

Departure Time

Truus Matti

You could already smell the rain. The girl closed her eyes and took a deep breath. The wind drove red sand across the bare plain and chased it up the hill. Once it got to the top, it swirled around her and teasingly pulled her hair.

A run-down hotel on a bare plain: the only hiding place for a girl in the rain. Once inside, a fox offers her a chair. A suspicious rat acts like he has met her before. But she can’t remember anything. Not even her own name…. At the hotel she finds more questions than answers. She hears piano music, but can’t find the piano. And what about the pieces of paper flying around the plain? While she tries to mend these pieces together, the pieces in her mind start to come together as well. And then she remembers the question she really wants to be answered.

Departure Time is an amazing journey of a girl in two stories. There is the girl in the hotel with the fox and the rat. And there is the girl with a father who travels a lot and who suggests to write a story together. A story about talking animals. But she doesn’t want to. She is angry with him, because he can’t make her birthday in time. Again. The two stories slowly start to intertwine and come together in a surprising ending.

  • Ages: 10 - 14
  • Grades: 4 - 8
  • Pages: 216
  • Hardcover: $18.95
  • Softcover: $9.95
  • E-book: $8.95

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Recent Reviews

7In this debut novel, two seemingly unrelated stories merge into a poignant journey from anger to acceptance. ... Initially perplexing and surreal, the narrative’s juxtaposition of fantasy and reality eventually blends beautifully in the convincing conclusion.

—Kirkus Reviews

7Matti takes readers on an enigmatic journey through a landscape that encompasses the profundities of life and death and of love that transcends all boundaries. Remarkable and arresting and wholly original, this novel lingers in the mind long after the last page has been read.

—School Library Journal

In alternating chapters, Dutch author Matti's first novel tells two esoteric stories that coalesce into a lyrical and moving whole.... The shifts between stories are seamless.... As the puzzlelike story unfolds, it retains a suspenseful quality, as the girl works through emotional issues and uncovers the large and small mysteries in her life.

—Publishers Weekly

[T]he bereavement story is riveting, not only the universals of sadness, guilt, and anger, but also the secrets that are revealed, especially when the girl finds the tender, funny letters that her father wrote to her that talk about the games they shared.


In two gracefully interwoven narratives, a young girl named Mouse slowly comes to terms with the untimely death of her beloved father, working through her grief and anger in a sophisticated yet utterly accessible story frame.... [A]n exceptionally well-crafted narrative about coming of age through loss.

—The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

This is an austere world, stripped of coziness and easy answers, daring in its portrayal of childhood pain and childhood strength.

—The Horn Book Magazine

Honors for Departure Time

  • 2011 Mildred L. Batchelder Award Honor Book
  • 2011 ALA Notable Book
  • 2011 USBBY Outstanding International Honor Book
  • CCBC Choices 2011