I am absolutely in love with this book. I expected it would be a fun read but I was blown away by how incredible it was. While it is marketed as a Middle-Grade book, the story is so well-written and nuanced that it will appeal to children and adults alike.
Discovering hidden worlds is a well explored trope in children’s stories and YA novels, from the Narnia series, to Inkheart to The Magicians for older readers, there are books a-plenty that follow plucky young adventurers through fantasy realms after they mysteriously vanish from our reality. There is a comforting familiarity to these stories that draws us back again and again, even if they are, in essence, just variations on the same theme. Then comes David Levithan, ready to flip the whole paradigm on its head.
The realm of Aveinieu and Aidan’s journey there, is not in fact, central to the tale. Rather, Levithan focuses on the emotional toll that is experienced by those left behind and the general upheaval that accompanies Aidan’s reintegration into his life when he reappears just as suddenly as he had left. The story is told from the perspective of Aidan’s younger brother Lucas, who keenly observes the reactions of everyone around him as he struggles with his own complex feelings. While others pressure Aidan for details about his disappearance, Lucas approaches his brother with a touching level of compassion, choosing to suspend disbelief so that he can offer support.
The book features excellent explorations of trust, betrayal, family, public scrutiny, and the fine distinction between what is true and what is real. I definitely recommend this book to readers of all ages! Fantastic read!
Thank you to NetGalley and Text Publishing for providing this ARC.