The Eighth-Grade History Class Visits the Hebrew Home for the Aging by Harry Turtledove

The Eighth-Grade History Class Visits the Hebrew Home for the Aging by Harry Turtledove
Publisher: Tor Books
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Short Story (32 pages)
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Some people will tell you that world-class fame is better than living to a contented old age. Other people disagree. One of those other people might possibly be the protagonist of The Eighth-Grade History Class Visits the Hebrew Home for the Aging by Harry Turtledove, master of the counterfactual.

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At first glance, this world was very similar to our own. The differences between them were important, though, and they did give important hints about the science fiction elements of the plot. I was fascinated by this alternate version of history and how a small tweak to the flow of time could have such big impacts on the lives of certain people.

It would have been nice to have a bit more information about why history played out differently in this world than it did in our own. Everything after that small change was described beautifully, but the reasons why the change happened in the first place weren’t given the same treatment. I would have liked to have a few words added to explain what happened there, but this is a minor criticism of something I absolutely loved otherwise.

Anne’s character development was wonderful. She’d reached a point in her life when she had plenty of time to reflect on everything that happened to her over the last eighty years. Her personality had clearly been shaped by those experiences, so it was interesting to see how events from many years ago were still echoing through to the present day. Some memories never fade no matter how much time passes.

The Eight-Grade History Class Visits the Hebrew Home for the Aging is a must- read for anyone who loves to imagine how history might have turned out differently if one little thing had been changed at the right moment.


  1. I love Harry Turtledove’s alternate history novels. He’s a history professor, if I remember correctly, so it really adds something to his story lines. I’m going to have to find this one since I’ve never heard of it.

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