Read a full summary of All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill below. If you can’t remember what happened in All Our Yesterdays and you need a refresher, then you’re in the right place.
Marina and Finn have been locked up fifteen times before they managed to escape again. They have to kill their former best friend James Shaw, who became a maniacal doctor, ruling the world in which they live in. It’s the only way to save them all. They travel back to the day James’ brother was shot, determined to kill him then. But things don’t go according to their plan so they have to start improvising, grabbing every opportunity to finish James off. After a few failed attempts and stalking James all over North-East, they find him back home, talking things over with the director, the man who is even worse than the doctor. But the doctor follows them into the past and messes things up even more. He kidnaps past Finn and Marina and future Finn goes after him, leaving Em to go after past James. In the end, when they all meet in the same place, James kills himself to prevent himself becoming the monster he is, as he learns the horrible truth about himself from the future.
What happened in All Our Yesterdays?
- Em and Finn have been imprisoned for years because they wouldn’t tell where the documents they took are hidden. They spent their days and nights in closed off cells, only hearing each other’s voice. Em is determined she will crack why she’s so fascinated with the drain in her cell. One day, she manages to sneak away the spoon from her meal and opens the drain. Inside is a piece of paper full of Em’s writing.
- After a while, she realizes it’s from past fourteen Ems that managed to escape the imprisonment. The last Em left instructions for the next one: You have to kill him. That’s how Em realizes what she must do – travel back in time, stop the doctor and prevent the building of the time machine Cassandra. She waits for the right time and soon the opportunity comes. A soldier named Connor saves her and Finn and gets them out of their cells. He leads them to the room with time-traveling machine from where Em and Finn escape.
- Marina is waiting for James Shaw to come home. He’s been away at school and she hasn’t seen him in weeks, nor spoke to him. When he finally arrives, she goes to visit, but after James’ other friend, Finn, comes over, she leaves them alone. Marina and Finn don’t really get along too well. Later, James invites her to a function where his brother will speak. Marina’s friends, Tamsin and Sophie, fuss over her to make her pretty, and give her tips how to catch James – Marina’s been in love with him for ages.
- At the function, all is well and fine, and Marina almost gets James to go home with her, when Nate – James’ brother, gets shot in the middle of his speech. In the chaos that follows, Marina and Finn go with James to the hospital after Nate.
- Returning to the past, Em and Finn find Connor again. He helps them get washed, fed and clothed, and he gives them a gun as well. After that, Em and Finn go where they know their past selves will be: at the hospital, where James’ brother Nate is getting nursed after being shot. They wait outside for James to go catch a breath, and then Em shoots at him. She fails to kill him and after the shot, she’s also momentarily absent as her mind goes back to the day she met James for the first time. After the failed shot, Em and Finn hide for a while and lay low.
- Marina’s is very worried about James getting shot. She says she saw the shooters and they looked just like Finn and she, but nobody believes her, thinking she’s just stressed. They spend a day in the hospital, worrying over Nate, who is still not out of the woods. After a short nap, Marina, Finn and Vivian, Nate’s fiancée, convince James to go home and sleep.
- The front of James’ house is packed with the press so they are taken to Finn’s house in the poor part of the city instead. The trio crashes there for a few hours and Marina even gets to sleep with James wrapped around her for a portion of the night. Em and Finn followed them to Finn’s house, and while future Finn was asleep, Em took off to the back of the house and peered in. She was very close to James and could have shot him, but she stopped because of Marina. Em also had another flashback to a day in the cell, where she was persuaded by James to tell her secret. She refused and was beaten for it.
- The past and the future characters soon return to the hospital, where Nate wakes for a moment. He signs to Marina A-I-R and C-T for Connecticut, telling her his investigation, his shooting, and James are connected. Nate then passes out again. That forces James to demand answers, but the head of investigation seems like he’s hiding something. He said the CCTV camera have been looked and that the shooters were two teen males, younger than Finn and Marina. That forces Marina to push James into fleeing to Connecticut to find his own answers.
- Em and future Finn scout out the hospital, and when they see Marina and Finn leave, they get inside, pretending to be the duo that just left. Meeting with James’ relatives and Vivian, they all realize James fled with the other two. Em and future Finn just barely make it out of the hospital. They see a car stop at the nearby Starbucks, Marina comes out and lets James, who just came from the shop, drive the getaway car.
- Just before the trio leaves, Marina and Finn go to her house to get food and other supplies. Her parents are back home and they tell her they’re divorcing. Marina’s mother also wants to move with Marina to New York. Marina gets really mad and storms off, Finn in tow. James and his friends drive all through the next day and late ant night arrive at Shaw house in Greenwich, Connecticut.
- They turn the house around and just when it looks Marina’s idea was a goose chase, the safe holds what they were looking for – it’s a email conversation concerning Nate and James, signed by Chris Richter – head of investigation. Future Finn and Em followed and were staking the house from the outside, when Em got another flash of the past. When she wakes up, a police car passes them on its way to the Shaw house.
- The trio returns back to D. C. after the police leaves as they hid from them. The files they found are about James mostly, his IQ and school reports, his research. On the way home James tells the other two he’s been researching time travel and thinks it’s possible. He plans on proving it to save the world. Mid-drive they learn Nate has died.
- Em and Finn have been following the trio from Connecticut. Past Finn resumes driving of the getaway car and barely makes it off the highway to a hotel. As Marina and Finn leave moments later for Denny’s, future Finn and Em take the chance of James being alone. Entering the room, James doesn’t recognize them at first, but then figures something is wrong with Marina. Finn tries to explain that James succeeds in time-travel in the future, but James doesn’t believe them at first. They tell him they came to kill him.
- Em nearly shoots James but they’re interrupted by past selves coming back. James takes the chance and leaps on Em. Finn and Em have to get away and Em tries the window. They escape with a promise to come after him again. Marina, Finn and James leave soon after on James’ orders.
- Future Finn and Em follow, but after Em admits she let James go at Finn’s house earlier, Finn veers off the road and stops following them. He confronts Em; she still loves James and Finn doesn’t want to be responsible for taking him away from her because he loves her too much. Right then Em has another flashback, of a time when Finn and she and the people they stayed with on the run were found by the doctor and FBI. After she comes back, Em admits she loves Finn, but still has feelings for James as well. Marina, Finn and James make it back to James’ house.
- Em and Finn go after the trio the next day, while James, past Finn and Marina go meet with Richter on their own, future-selves right behind them. As an older man enters the rrestaurant Em recognizes him as the director. Inside the restaurant, Richter almost admits there was an inside job involved in Nate’s shooting, as he knew too much. Richter offers James to join them, since they have the funds to fuel James time travel plans and help him change the world. When Richter gets a phone call, he’s informed Nate’s shooter’s in custody.
- Finn and Marina are still skeptical about Richter, but James is being won over. Em realized she rushed James straight into the man’s hands. James agrees to go see the evidence with Richter; he’s even considering joining forces. That’s when past Finn says he’s not trusting James anymore and leaves. Marina challenges James, whether he loves her or not, and when it’s clear he’s been sort of playing her to keep her around, she walks away as well.
- Finn is still in the past while Em watches herself and younger Finn leave the restaurant alone. When James comes out and goes for Richter’s car, she gets out and wants to shoot him, but the gun jams and James drives away with Richter. As Em follows on foot, she’s caught by the doctor. He drugs her and leaves her on the sidewalk. She’s found by Finn.
- Doctor goes after Marina and Finn. If he kills them in the past, he’ll be done with them forever. Em and future Finn realize Connor must have talked for the doctor to come back earlier than expected. They split, Em going after James and Finn after the past duo that left James behind.
- Marina calls her mom and tells her she’ll go to New York, but one the way home, the cab stops abruptly. The road is blocked by future James. As Marina and past Finn flee, James is fighting future Finn. James fights Finn off and follows younger duo, catches Marina and shocks her with a taser.
- Em follows Richter and James and finds them at last in a heavy road traffic. She follows them to a nondescript building, and faking being a pizza delivery girl, gets inside. Triggering the fire alarm, she clears the top floor and slips inside. She finds James in a toilet; he wants to talk. Em tells James all that happens in the future. In the middle of telling, she gets taken over by another flashback.
- Marina and past Finn are in a strange house, bound to chairs, James from the future holding them hostage. He plans on killing Marina. Meanwhile, Em and James are fighting over the gun in the toilet when she comes back around. James wins, but then Em gets a call. Doctor wants Finn and Em bring past James to him. Em forms a truce with James, they pick up Finn and go look for the other versions of themselves.
How did it end?
When they get to the house, Em plans to go through the back. Finn tells James to give her the gun, but James throws it away. Finn goes inside to talk with the doctor while Em retrieves the gun. Then she goes around the house and enters in the back, but the doctor knows it and tortures Marina to get Em to enter the room. He overpowers her and lets her join the others with his gun hording them together.
Em realizes doctor is communicating with Richter even now that he’s in the past, and that he was the one who found him, made him approach his younger self and helped speed up Cassandra’s creation. Doctor wants the papers, but Em says she burned them years ago. The only reason they’re both still alive is because they love each other so much they cannot kill one another.
A fight starts. Future Finn attacks James while Em attacks the doctor. Doctor overpowers her again and shoots young Finn in the chest. Young Finn dies while the older one disappears completely. In the agony that takes over Em, she tells James he was the one who killed his own brother through a solider he sent back to the past. Jameses then fight each other while Em rescues Marina. James wins over his older self and shoots himself. He dies while Em and doctor slowly fade away.
When Marina wakes, Nate is at the front door. He came to tell Marina that James took his own life. At the funeral, Marina holds Finn hand and gets a warm lingering memory of some sort, that all is right.
Note: Em and Marina are the same person. Em is from the future, and the name derives from M, a nickname Finn gave her in the past, when she was still Marina, James’ friend.
The future James is referred to as doctor, and he’s the one that needs to be stopped.
Future Richter is referred to as the director, working with the doctor.