Time and Time Again

Reese Witherspoon Backed This Former Lakewood Ranch Resident's Debut Novel

Chatham Greenfield's new YA book, "Time and Time Again," is being published next month by Bloomsbury Children's.

By Kay Kipling June 5, 2024

The cover for "Time and Time Again."

Any reader knows that the name Reese (as in actress-producer-book lover Reese Witherspoon) attached to a book is a very big deal. Just ask the authors of such picks as Where the Crawdads Sing, Romantic Comedy and Tiny Beautiful Things, to name a few.

A few years ago, Witherspoon extended her literary reach with Reese’s LitUp Book Club—a program devoted to getting published the voices of marginalized and disadvantaged women writers. And chosen for her inaugural year was a former Lakewood Ranch local—Chatham Greenfield.

Greenfield’s debut novel, Time and Time Again, comes out July 23, via Bloomsbury Children’s, and they (Greenfield uses she/they pronouns) are, naturally, very excited. It’s a coming-of-age YA (Young Adult) story of teenager Phoebe Mendel, who’s gay, fat and suffers from debilitating bouts of IBS (irritable bowel syndrome). As if that weren’t enough, Phoebe has also gotten stuck in a time loop that may keep her from an appointment with a doctor who could help her.

First-time novelist Chatham Greenfield.

Enter Phoebe’s former friend, and soon-to-be-girlfriend, Jess, via a minor car accident that helps to reset time. “I wanted her to talk with someone who inherently understands her,” Greenfield said in a recent interview. “In their romance, they balance each other out. They see the world differently. Jess is loud, brash, upfront, the polar opposite of Phoebe, who’s very shy and reserved. I sprinkle aspects of myself and my life and upbringing around like confetti, but the overall story is fictional.”

The IBS diagnosis comes straight from Greenfield’s own life, for example, and Phoebe’s hometown, Lewiston, is very loosely based on Lakewood Ranch, where Greenfield grew up and where their parents (Sarasota Orchestra marketing chief Gordon Greenfield and medical PA Kathleen) still live. But Greenfield says Phoebe’s personality does not really represent theirs. Making stuff up is part of the fun of writing, after all.

Greenfield says they have wanted to write since they were 8 years old. After graduating from high school early back in 2016 (and, BTW, serving for a while as an editorial intern at Sarasota Magazine), they went on to Sarah Lawrence College, studying creative writing and disability justice.

Back home in Florida, stuck here during the pandemic, they started writing Time and Time Again. And in 2021, they discovered the Reese’s LitUp program online.

“I thought it was an amazing opportunity,” Greenfield says. “I applied and was chosen. They pair you with an author who helps you with your book; my agent came after the program. I was inspired to write a time loop story because I realized that when you have health issues, your life can feel like a time loop, with all the doctor’s appointments and that repetitiveness.”

Greenfield, who turns 26 this summer, says they definitely want to write more YA books. In fact, their second, about two girls who are enemies but then fall in love, is coming out in 2025. They’re in the process of editing it now.

“I don’t write every day,” Greenfield says, “because with my health issues, I need time to rest. But I set weekly goals. Writing has always been my hobby and my passion, but it’s definitely different when you have a book deal and a contract to fulfill. It’s such a gift to be able to make things up for a living.”

While in high school, Greenfield says they were eager and ready to get out of Florida, but “in hindsight, I love it. My second book takes place in Florida, too, in St. Augustine. I really love the nature—the alligators, frogs, lizards. It’s such a magical place, having the ocean, the marshes, the swamps.”

Greenfield lives out of state now, but return for frequent visits, to see family and maybe go to Disney World. And, they add, “I make stops at Publix for the Publix subs.”

For more info on Time and Time Again, visit chatgreenfield.com; to pre-order the book, go to bloomsbury.com.

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