Sheinmel, Alyssa B. Second Star
May 13th 2014
by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Wendy Darling's family has been fractured ever since her twin brothers, John and Michael, disappeared with their surf boards. It's been months, and after the boards were found shattered, the parents decided that the brothers were dead and sank into their own pits of grief. Wendy doesn't believe that they are really gone, and decides that they must be surfing in some out of the way cove. After meeting a mysterious boy, Pete, she tells her parents that she is traveling with her friend Fiona, and looks for Pete on the beaches. She finds him at a collection of condemned houses on a cliff, an area called Kensington that was abandoned due to safety issues but now the home of a variety of runaways. Pete takes care of the group, but is in conflict with another guy across the way-- Jas is a drug dealer who hooks kids on something called Fairy Dust. Pete and Belle want nothing to do with Jas but eventually admit that John and Michael were involved with him, and may have been surfing dangerous waves under the influence of drugs. In order to talk to Jas, Wendy takes a tablet of fairy dust in order to gain admittance to the house, and has a very bad trip. She ends up at home, suffering from drug flashbacks, but runs away again and finally pieces together the truth about what happened to her brothers.
Strengths: Peter Pan with surfers! This was certainly a very unique retelling of the story, and it works on many levels. Capt. Hook as a drug dealer was a little odd, but the reimagining of Tinkerbell is clever, as is the California version of Neverland. The cover alone will insure that my romance readers check it out, and it doesn't have anything inappropriate for middle school readers. The drug use is portrayed as bad, and there's some kissing.
Weaknesses: Just about any YA book dealing with death involves so much hand wringing and whining, and I've not been in the mood to be patient with that. People die. Life goes on. Reading about dysfunctional ways of dealing with death in book after book is becoming wearing.