EVERLOST by Neal Shusterman
For most mid-grade and young adult readers, school is in full swing and that means your young reader is probably already swamped with required reading. Hopefully parents can successfully set aside time where TV and social media are put to rest in the evening and a pillow, book and maybe a favorite snack are grabbed for at least a half hour before lights out.
Everyone has their own version of the afterlife But when you’re a kid, you don’t think it really matters until a car accident has you headed down the proverbial tunnel and a bump sets you off course and you don’t get where you were supposed to go. For Allie and Nick, this was their new reality, placing them in a forest called Everlost with one occupant, a boy named Leif, who had seemingly been there forever.
This jewel of a book, high-low young adult for the reluctant YA reader, is a page-turner with strong believable characters and imaginative twists and turns in the plot. It delicately deals with the subject of children caught between worlds as they make their way to “where they’re supposed to go.”
After a short time, bored with the forest and no particular purpose the three set out. They discover that in this alternate universe, buildings that were lost to this plane (such as the Twin Towers) are safe places where they won’t sink to the center of the earth. It is in such a place that they meet Mary Hightower, a young woman who, a bit like Peter Pan’s Wendy and her lost boys, is a mother figure to other young Afterlights as the children are known. And she has spent her eternity writing, while not entirely accurate, everything there is to know about the afterlife, editing of course to her personal agenda. Seemingly kind and generous, one would not think she has a terrible secret and an ulterior motive.
The children are told of a Monster called McGill whom they must avoid at all costs. After a betrayal, they find themselves face to face with this monster who collects coins and fortune cookies and seems as bent on trapping Afterlights as the good-hearted Mary had.
The young reader will delight as Mary Hightower struggles to fly the ghostly Hindenberg to the twin towers where Nick must arrive before her to disclose to the Afterlights waiting for her, the real truth to getting where they’re supposed to go.