Books are written in first person, in the style of a "choose your own adventure" book. The unnamed, approximately ten-year-old protagonist is female and mostly left undescribed so as to leave the image vague. Generally, she has at least one personal problem and/or skill in her life that relates in some way to the historical character's life--e.g. the character in Julie's Journey book is dealing with adjusting to her parents living in separate locations and the worry they might divorce, is unsure of making new friends at a new school, and is also good at basketball like Julie.
The protagonist encounters a physical item from the past--symbolized by the charm shown on the cover of the book--that, when interacted with, magically and unexpectedly transports her to the character's era.When she first arrives, she quickly returns, realizing with surprise that the item takes her back in time. She then decides to return for an extended time out of personal curiosity. Soon after her return to the past era, she meets the historical character a little more properly, and they generally become friends quickly. The protagonist is often assumed to be someone who would be plausible to the story or manages to explain why she is in the era with a story which is easily accepted. (e.g. The protagonist of A New Beginning is assumed to be a recently freed black girl who has escaped north without her family; in Full Speed Ahead, Kit assumes from the start that that the protagonist is either a cousin come to visit or, if this is denied, a hobo child.) The protagonist is quite often dressed in plausible era-accurate clothing during her time travel, helping the illusion that she is authentically of the time period; if not, she is soon changed into proper clothing with help of the historical character and her modern clothes might be remarked on. The protagonist and the Historical Character spend the majority of the book's events together until the protagonist chooses to return to her own time.
During her interactions with the historical character and others, the protagonist's issue or issues are often analyzed in her mind, giving her a new perspective she hadn't considered before. She also encounters social aspects of the past in the location that she hadn't realized (e.g. the protagonist of Addy's book encountering direct bigotry and prejudice, the protagonist of Caroline's getting involved in a skirmish, the many mentions of World War Two by both Nanea and Molly). This may make her uncomfortable, such as the protagonist of Felicity's book being disturbed by Felicity's casual acceptance of African enslavement being a part of her grandfather's plantation. She constantly thinks about her family, friends, and/or people from her own life as she interacts with the historical character and her world. While scary or worrying events may happen, none of the final endings are wholly negative or end too poorly, and the protagonist is always assumed to return back to her own present time without any resistance, specifically making sure that she is alone when she returns so as not to be seen "disappearing" by the Historical Character or anyone else. (Endings may not actively show the character returning, but it is generally stated outright that she will be going home.) She returns--or will return--at the moment she left with a new perspective on her own life that she will apply to her problems and/or attitude about them.
Most endings are available in the book with two additional endings available online at BeForever Endings; the choice is stated in the books as the URL beforever.com/endings, but this link now redirects to http://play.americangirl.com/play/beforever/endings/. If reading an e-book, clicking on internal links in the book take the reader to the online endings.
In 2016, abridged copies of the My Journey Books for currently available BeForever characters were included with the 2016 Special Edition mini dolls.
List of Journey Books
- Kaya: The Roar of the Falls: My Journey with Kaya
- Felicity Merriman: Gunpowder and Tea Cakes: My Journey with Felicity
- Caroline Abbott: Catch the Wind: My Journey with Caroline
- Josefina Montoya: Song of the Mockingbird: My Journey with Josefina
- Addy Walker: A New Beginning: My Journey with Addy
- Samantha Parkington: The Lilac Tunnel: My Journey with Samantha
- Rebecca Rubin: The Glow of the Spotlight: My Journey with Rebecca
- Kit Kittredge: Full Speed Ahead: My Journey with Kit
- Nanea Mitchell: Prints in the Sand: My Journey with Nanea
- Molly McIntire: Chances and Changes: My Journey with Molly
- Maryellen Larkin: The Sky's the Limit: My Journey with Maryellen
- Melody Ellison: Music in My Heart: My Journey with Melody
- Julie Albright: A Brighter Tomorrow: My Journey with Julie
- This is actually a copyrighted term; the generic term is "game book."
- Generally, upon seeing the historical character, protagonists remark that they are near their own age.
- There are four notable explicit exceptions. The protagonist of A New Beginning is explicitly identified as African-American; the protagonist of The Sky's the Limit is named Sophie; the protagonist of Song of the Mockingbird is a green-eyed redhead and self-identifies herself with the nickname Birdy; and the protagonist of Chances and Changes is named Margaret. Also, while the protagonist of Music in My Heart is not explicitly stated to be, she most likely is African-American, or passes as such.
- The exception is the protagonist of Music in My Heart who must actively sing the verses of "Lift Every Voice and Sing" but can do so anywhere.
- The exceptions are Josefina's and Caroline's books, where the protagonist may instead opt not to return to the past era at all; this results in a very quick ending.