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Cover image for Turnabout



1st ed.
Publication Information:
New York : Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers, ©2000.
Physical Description:
223 pages ; 22 cm
After secretly receiving injections at the age of 100 that are meant to reverse the aging process, Melly and Anny Beth grow younger until, as teenagers, they try to find a guardian to take care of them as they return to infancy.
Reading Level:
Young Adult.

690 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader 5.3.

Reading Counts! 5.9.


Call Number

On Order



What if you became younger each year? A redesigned edition of a suspenseful, futuristic adventure that Kirkus Reviews calls "intriguing, thought-provoking, and certainly original."

In the year 2000, Melly and Anny Beth are near the end of their natural lives when they are selected to participate in Project Turnabout. Turnabout's injections make them grow younger, though at some point, all the participants are to receive another injection that will stop the unaging process. But it turns out there's a catch: Everyone who receives the second shot dies. So Melly and Anny Beth flee the project and survive on their own as their lifespans reverse. By 2085, the pair is in their teens, and it's only a matter of time before they'll need a caretaker. With a reporter on their trail and their old memories fading fast, they desperately need to find someone they can trust with the truth--before they're too young to talk.

Author Notes

Margaret Peterson Haddix was born in Washington Court House, Ohio on April 9, 1964. She received bachelor's degrees in English/journalism, English/creative writing, and history from Miami University in 1986. Before becoming an author, she was a copy editor for The Journal-Gazette, a newspaper reporter for The Indianapolis News, an instructor at Danville Area Community College, and a freelance writer. Her first book, Running Out of Time, was published in 1995. She has written more than 30 books including Don't You Dare Read This, Mrs. Dunphrey, Just Ella, Turnabout, The Girl with 500 Middle Names, Because of Anya, and Into the Gauntlet. She also writes the Shadow Children series and the Missing series. She has won the International Reading Association Children's Book Award and several state Readers' Choice Awards.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 5

School Library Journal Review

Gr 6-10-Eighty-five years ago, Melly and Anny Beth were old women participating in a highly secret research study that reversed the aging process. However, the directors of Project Turnabout couldn't halt the reversal, and the women have "unaged" back into teenagers. Soon they will become so young that they will no longer care for themselves. Even worse, a reporter's interest in Melly is threatening to destroy the privacy that the teens alone still value in the publicity-mad culture of the year 2085. The suspense is unflagging as the two flee from unwanted exposure and search for a way to live out the rest of their days. The futuristic setting, including the consensual media circus of daily life, is scarily believable. The girls are well drawn, distinct characters, their teenaged selves logical extensions of their adult personas with one important difference: Melly and Anny Beth have learned from the mistakes of their "first lives" and accomplished more the second time around. The novel ends with the suggestion that longer life might be a blessing, an unusual perspective in science fiction and fantasy for young people, where extreme longevity is often depicted as a burden. Recommend this one to fans of Michael Crichton and Robin Cook, or pair it with Natalie Babbitt's Tuck Everlasting (Farrar, 1975) for a thoughtful discussion about human life and human potential.-Beth Wright, Fletcher Free Library, Burlington, VT (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publisher's Weekly Review

At age 100, Melly and the other Riverside nursing home residents are injected with a drug to make them "unage" yet find that they cannot stop the process. "Haddix successfully shuttles readers between three different eras and builds up to a surprising final face-off," said PW. Ages 10-14. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Horn Book Review

At the end of the twentieth century, a group of nursing home residents is given an experimental injection that reverses aging. Throughout the next century, Melly and Anny Beth grow progressively younger until, as teenagers in 2085, they face the prospect of reverting to childhood, then infancy. This fascinating premise makes the suspenseful and thought-provoking novel a page-turner. From HORN BOOK Spring 2001, (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Kirkus Review

In this intriguing, thought-provoking, and certainly original novel, Amelia Lenore Hazelwood is 100 years old and living in a nursing home where the only thing she has to look forward to is death. Everything changes though when 50 of the nursing-home residents are selected to participate in a top-secret “unaging” experiment, labeled Project Turnabout. Using a special chemical, the old people will become younger and younger until they take a drug that will stop the de-aging process—then they will forever be that age. But there’s been a problem, and the drug designed to stop the process doesn’t work. Now Amelia and the others face de-aging until infancy and then, presumably, death. The story, told by Amelia as the process begins in the year 2000 and also as a 16-year-old (now nicknamed “Melly”) in 2085, follows Melly and her best friend Anny Beth’s attempts to find someone to take care of them as they revert to childhood and babyhood. The two friends run away to Amelia’s childhood home which, surprisingly, still stands and is inhabited by Melly’s great-great-great granddaughter, A.J. Hazelwood. Ironically, A.J., a reporter, has been researching Amelia’s life. Melly decides that A.J. is the best candidate to be her surrogate mother and they form a highly unusual family. As in some of her other work, Haddix (Among the Hidden, 1998, etc.) examines the role of an outsider navigating her way through an unfamiliar culture. She gets in a few good digs at some of the less savory aspects of American popular culture that only get worse as her fictional 21st century progresses. “ ‘Why is it,’ Anny Beth asks as the two watch TV, ‘that with everything else that’s improved in the last eighty years, TV news still stinks?’ ” The book raises philosophical questions that young-adult readers will sink their teeth into about the desirability of living longer lives than we do today, of the role of old people in our society, and about the ethics of medical experimentation. A fascinating concept engrossingly told. (Fiction. 11-16)

Booklist Review

Gr. 7^-10. What if people could grow younger each year instead of older? In the year 2001, nursing-home residents Melly and Anny Beth, aged 100 and 103, are given just such an opportunity. When readers catch up with them in 2085, they are teenagers, 15 and 18, and faced with the prospect of finding someone to care for them as they regress further into childhood. Dated entries from the initiation of Project Turnabout to the women's current predicament make it easy to follow this thought-provoking story, which Haddix notes is based on an obscure scientific theory that she was surprised to find in recent headlines. The need for love and protection, especially among the aged and young children, is poignantly conveyed, as is the isolation of the elderly in society. Although minor characters are somewhat flat, Anny Beth and Melly come to life, both as seniors and teens. This will provoke lively discussion in middle-school book clubs, and draw sf fans as well as readers who like survival stories. --Debbie Carton