Tuesday, January 15, 2019


Haydu, Corey Ann. Eventown
February 12th 2019 by HC/Katherine Tegen Books
Copy provided by Young Adult Books Central

Elodee's family is struggling for reasons that aren't clear, and she and her twin sister Naomi are not getting along. When their mother gets a job in Eventown, no one really wants to move, but they do, digging up a rose bush from their old home and bringing it with them. Eventown has a lot of good opportunities and a lot of fun activities for the girls. Elodee loves to cook, and Naomi does gymnastics. When the girls go to the welcoming center for their orientation, they find out that Eventown was founded by Jasper Plimmswood for people whose homes were destroyed in a hurricane, and they needed to start over. The girls are invited into a room where they tell six stories of their lives, including the most embarrassing moment and the most heartbreaking one, and after they do, the stories are gone from their minds. Unfortunately, Elodee's session is interrupted, so she is halfway through the process and can remember just enough about her previous life to make her sad. Elodee starts to notive that the family's new perfect life is not so perfect, and that her new friends have gaping holes in their memories, even of important things like their grandparents. When Eventown starts to not be so perfect anymore, it's up to Elodee to come to terms with the reasons her family came to Eventown and to decide if horrible memories are worth having if it means she gets to hold onto the good ones as well.

Eventown is an interesting setting, and Elodee's mother's new job is a convincing reason for the family to move. The physical layout, the beauty of the houses, and the perfect weather all make for an idyllic new home for a fractured family. The reason why the family is in pain is not revealed until the very ending of the book, and I don't want to spoil it other than to say that there should perhaps be trigger warnings.

While most of the characters are fairly flat, because they have given up their memories, Elodee is inquisitive and engaged, trying to settle into her new surroundings and make things better for her family in their new home while trying to navigate the waters with different equipment than the other residents have. Readers who want to embrace sad stories rather than forget them will sympathize with Elodee's quest for truth, even if it is painful for her.

Personally, I disagree with the entire premise of this novel. There is nothing wrong with forgetting sad things, if one were even able to do so in the real world, and I don't think it is fair to portray the vast majority of families dealing with grief in middle grade novels as fractured and unable to go on. That's just insulting. People go on because there is no other option. As I explained in my post on Jason Reynold's The Boy in the Black Suit, my truth is that unpleasant things are best forgotten. It's not everyone's truth, but it is mine, and this book was at odds with my truth. Everyone else seems to think it is fantastic, so read some other reviews as well before making up your mind about it.
Ms. Yingling

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