The Pequod Review:
With The Child in Time, Ian McEwan finally joined his incredible talents as a stylist with a well-structured narrative. The book begins with the disappearance of a three-year-old girl on a routine trip with her father to the supermarket (one of the most frightening scenes of McEwan’s career). From there, it builds to become a complex and subtle book about childhood more generally — the process of growing up, the way adults yearn to recapture their youth, how the experience (and laws) of childhood have changed throughout history, and how children perceive time itself.
For children, childhood is timeless. It is always the present. Everything is in the present tense. Of course, they have memories. Of course, time shifts a little for them and Christmas comes round in the end. But they don’t feel it. Today is what... they feel, and when they say “When I grow up,” there is always an edge of disbelief—how could they ever be other than what they are?