Would you live your life differently if you knew the time of your death?
For Parvin Blackwater, the heroine of A Time to Die, the answer is ‘not really.’
In the dystopian world of A Time to Die, everyone receives a Clock that tells them when they will die (down to the last second). Parvin’s Clock shows that she will die before her twentieth birthday and, until the last year of her life, she has done little with the time given her. And she regrets it. There’s a huge world out there and she’s spent her entire life in the village she was born in. How could she fix that? What could she do to change her fate, even as the numbers on her Clock tick down?
Throughout the book, Parvin takes risks and makes choices that aren’t easy – but that propel her toward living more fully. Her journey to make her life count, to not waste the life God gave her inspires me in so many ways. It also moves me because it mirrors a true life story I know: the story of my dad.
I first read A Time to Die in 2017, the year my dad passed away. They diagnosed him with cancer in the summer of 2016 and even though we were all hopeful at first, it eventually became clear to us he would not beat it.
And that’s where the parallels to A Time to Die and come in.
My dad didn’t know the exact time of his death—he just knew it was coming. But instead of giving up on life, he did everything he could to make his final months and weeks and days count. He wrote letters to each of his eight children. He surrounded himself with friends that he hadn’t seen in years. He prayed. He reconciled with certain people. He helped my mom figure out what she would need to do after he passed away.
Looking back, I don’t think it was a coincidence that I read A Time to Die when I did. Nadine Brandes (the author) helped me to see that even when life throws you impossible situations and choices, you can choose to be completely in the moment. You can choose to live a life for God and others and yourself. I don’t know when I’ll breathe my last breath. But thanks to Parvin—and my dad—I know that I need to live the best I can, while I can.
A Time to Die is unique among dystopian novels because Parvin doesn’t set out to change the world and she’s not unhappy with the society she lives in. The government isn’t out to get her (at least not at first). She doesn’t want to lead a rebellion and overthrow the system—she simply wants to find a purpose for her life and fulfill that purpose in the months she has left. That’s the journey she goes on, that’s the beating heart of the novel. And I pray that we’ll all find and fulfill our own purposes, inspired by good books and the lives lived around us every day.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Eva-Joy Schonhaar is an aspiring author who has written several novels and hopes to be published some day soon. She’s a Christian fangirl who drinks insane amounts of coffee, thinks that chocolate chip cookies solve pretty much everything, and always uses the Oxford Comma. In her spare time she can be found geeking out over superheroes and reading The Hunger Games for the millionth time.