Time and Again by Jack Finney
Rating: 3 stars (out of 5)
Genre: historical fiction, science fiction
Challenge: TBR (alternate)
Review: Time travel through self-hypnosis is definitely one of the most creative methods I've ever read about, and definitely one of the more bizarre. The idea is that if you are able to find a place that is virtually identical to what it was (or will be) in another time, you can hypnotize yourself into actually transporting to that other time. Not everyone can do it. But if you're good enough at it, you can apparently take someone else with you.
To all of which I say: whatever. It's an outlandish theory, but I suppose not a whole lot more so than other time travel theories. At any rate, Si Morley can do it, and repeatedly goes back to New York in 1882 with the idea of observing a certain event. Naturally, he is only supposed to observe, and not get involved in any way with any of the people of that time. Of course, that doesn't work out so well.
And the story itself becomes much different from what you think it will be as it goes along, which is always appreciated. Dealing with the ethics and possibilities of time travel, Si must make a decision that could effect the course of American history. In the end, though, he makes what seems to be a different decision.
Finney deals with these complexities in a subtle, interesting way, saving this book from becoming just another "Connecticut Yankee".