In one moment, Jen’s world comes crashing down. She watches her beloved son Todd walk home late one night, and after another man approaches him, Todd becomes a murderer. Her world is upended, and the next day things start to get even stranger. She wakes up the day before the murder, and continues traveling backward in time, trying to stop the eventual murder. Explore this fascinating story with our Wrong Place Wrong Time book club questions and use this discussion guide to help you dive into this imaginative story.
This book uses time traveling to explore many interesting themes around motherhood, deception, and the consequences of our actions. Do you really know the people who are close to you? Is it ever justifiable to lie to your family? Explore these themes with this Wrong Place Wrong Time discussion guide which includes a book synopsis, discussion prompts, selected reviews and three related reads.
With time travel, murder and secrets, this book has everything you need for an interesting book club discussion. Use the Wrong Place Wrong Time book club questions to get the conversation started.
Wrong Place Wrong Time Synopsis
(We always chose to provide the publisher synopsis because we feel that it’s worthwhile to discuss whether the official book description actually squared with your experience of the book.)
Wrong Place Wrong Time, Gillian McAllister
Can you stop a murder after it’s already happened?
It is midnight on the morning of Halloween, and Jen anxiously waits up for her 18-year-old son, Todd, to return home. But worries about his broken curfew transform into something much more dangerous when Todd finally emerges from the darkness. As Jen watches through the window, she sees her funny, seemingly happy teenage son stab a total stranger.
She doesn’t know who the victim is, or why Todd has committed such a devastating act of violence. All she knows is that her life, and Todd’s, have been shattered.
After her son is taken into custody, Jen falls asleep in despair. But when she wakes up…it is yesterday. The murder has not happened yet—and there may be a chance to stop it. Each morning, when Jen wakes, she is further back in the past, first weeks, then years, before the murder. And Jen realizes that somewhere in the past lies the trigger for Todd’s terrible crime…and it is her mission to find it, and prevent it from taking place.
Both the story of a mother’s love and the sacrifices she will make for her child, and a thriller with a brilliant twist, Wrong Place Wrong Time is a one-of-a-kind novel that begs to be read in one sitting.
10 Wrong Place Wrong Time Book Club Questions
- How do you feel about the time travel in the book? How would you feel if you had experienced it?
- “The love, true love, it should have eclipsed the shame, but there is so much judgment involved in parenthood that it never did. The shame is so easy to access, at the school gates, at the doctor’s, on fucking Mumsnet. She can’t let it go.”
Todd’s actions make Jen question her parenting skills. Can you relate? How much responsibility does a parent have for their child’s actions?
- What parts of your life would you want to re-live if you could?
- What do you think about Kelly’s secrets? Did you see that coming?
- “… but she still misses him in the way that children will always miss their parents’ guiding hands, the way they can hold your problems away from you, if only temporarily.”
How does Jen’s opinion of her father change with the secrets she finds out?
- “She always found motherhood so hard. It had been such a shock. Such a vast reduction in the time available to her. She did nothing well, not work nor parenting. She put out fires in both for what felt like a decade straight, has only recently emerged. But maybe the damage is already done.”
What do you think about the guilt Jen feels because of being a working mother? Have you felt that guilt?
- What changes would you be willing to make in your past life to protect your children?
- What did you think about the scene where she knew her father would die? What would you have done in that situation?
- “How sinister it is to relive your life backwards. To see things you hadn’t at the time. To realize the horrible significance of events you had no idea were playing out around you. To uncover lies told by them. Jen would always have said they were as straight as they come. But don’t all good liars seem that way?”
Do you think you would see events or people in your life differently if you were able to go back in time and view them with the perspective you have gained over time?
- What was your favorite revelation in the book?
- BONUS QUESTION: The publisher’s synopsis says that the book “begs to be read in one sitting”. So…did you read it on one sitting?
Selected Reviews for Wrong Place Wrong Time
(Use these selected Goodreads reviews to compare with your own experience of the book. Do you agree or disagree with the reviews?)
“…Time travel is the plot device du jour, so if you try to wrangle with the logistics of it all, you will most likely be hella annoyed. There simply is no rhyme nor reason to why she’s moving backwards, but it doesn’t matter – time travel is used to demonstrate how small seemingly insignificant details can add up to a disastrous event. That at every turn we can look a bit closer, see a bit more, get out in front of the consequences. Instead, we tend to fly through life in our own bubbles and then when the shoes drops, we’re forced to react. What if we could be so present that we could recognize the signs and be more proactive? To me, this is what the book was about.”
“Well this was certainly different, and there were so many twists I don’t know if I’m on my head or my heels! What a cleverly structured plot. How on earth Ms McAllister kept track of this and made it all fit I do not know, but just like that exceptionally difficult jigsaw puzzle, it all fits perfectly in the end. Just like a magician, Ms. McAllister was pointing her readers in one direction, when we should have been looking in another direction altogether!”
“This is a page-turner that kept me awake way past my bedtime. I thought this was going to be one of those domestic dramas of a mother feeling guilty about her bad parenting which leads to her son misbehaving. Isn’t that what everyone does, blame the mother? It’s not a murder mystery because we know who did it. We don’t know the “why” and “how” did it get to this point. What I also enjoyed is that Jen was able to observe her life when she went back. How often do we just react, but are not truly present in our lives?”
“Started well and I was really invested but as the main character started going back in time I lost interest. Too many tedious details, the story was dragging…a total snoozefest 🥱😴 I only got to the end because a friend of mine pushed me through. Otherwise I would never have. This whole book makes no sense. The ending was anticlimactic and left me wondering “was this it?” Seriously?!! All this build up for this?????”
3 Books Like Wrong Place Wrong Time
If you like twisting turning murder mysteries with a thorny family element, check out the following: The Guest List discussion guide (Lucy Foley), The Christie Affair discussion guide (Nina de Gramont), Into the Water discussion guide (Paula Hawkins), The Paris Apartment discussion guide (Lucy Foley), and The Last Thing He Told Me discussion guide (Laura Dave).
This book was a Reese’s book club selection, if you like her pics, check out our other guides for Reese’s books.
The 7 ½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, Stuart Turton
Aiden Bishop wakes up every day in the body of a perfect stranger. Trapped by a masked figure, he won’t be allowed to leave until he finds out who’s the murderer of Evelyn Hardcastle. Aiden experiences the psychology, history, and secrets of each character and how they are intertwined, along with two other people who are part of the crazy and intricate experience. This is a perfect read for a complex murder mystery combined with speculative fiction elements.
The Perfect Family, Robyn Harding
This is a great choice for another story about the secrets and lies that hide within families. The Adler family appears perfect from the outside, a married couple with two kids in a beautiful house, they know how to keep appearances up. But when their home starts to be attacked by escalating pranks and assaults, the secrets each family member is hiding are slowly revealed. Who is behind the attacks, and why? Who’s secrets are to blame?
The Psychology of Time Travel, Kate Mascarenhas
Looking for more murder mystery combined with time travel? Look no further than The Psychology of Time Travel. Ruby Rebello receives a newspaper clipping from the future about a murdered woman. Ruby doesn’t know who the woman is, and becomes obsessed with finding out who she is and why it happened.
Could it be related to her Grandma Bee, one of the four women who invented a time travel machine in the 1960’s? Four women invented it, but one was cast aside after a mental breakdown. How are all these events related, and who is the murderer?
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