…that’s how I read this book: in one sitting, way past my bedtime, so be sure that your schedule is clear until morning when you crack open Never Ever by Sara Saedi. It was the combination of an easily-readable narrative, an imaginative setting, with a darkness that compliments both the romantic elements and relationships among the characters.
Memorable Character: Wylie, the main character who has discovered her father’s affair and is trying to keep some peace while her parents decide to divorce and her younger brother is a day away from jail because of an accident that she helped cause. She’s befriended (and a bit smitten) with Phinn, a boy at a party who gives her a flower that allows her to fly before he takes her and her two younger brothers to Minor Island, the island where none of the inhabitants ever grow up. It’s what happens on the island and how Wylie responds at each turn that create the darkness as she discovers her “Peter Pan” may have a darker side that turns this Peter Pan story into Lord of the Flies.
Memorable Scene: Close the beginning, it’s when Phinn decides to pull out the small pouch that looks like it has been woven out of reeds and presents her with a bundle of tiny blue flowers that he’s asking her to try “hoping we could have an adventure together”. Realistically unnerved and curious, Wylie immediately begins to walk away before Phinn eats one and demonstrates that their consumption allows the consumer to fly. (And the fairy tale begins…)
Memorable Quote: A scrawl on a wall and a poem recited on the island “Never forget to live life to the fullest. Do it for the troubled; do it for the lost. The days may feel shorter; the nights may feel long. But when we remember, our memories grow strong.” This was the Phinn-created mantra that ends up being the biggest (and darkest) twist to the plot.
This is absolutely one of the more enjoyable 2016 reads with the splashes of magical realism that’s got a choke-hold on me right now, but it’s the attention to family since Wylie is joined on the island by her two brothers Micah and Joshua and the interwoven details of her parents, and the lasting questions readers can pose to themselves– if you could stay on an island and never age, would you leave everything else behind?