Eventown

Eventown

The world tilted for Elodee this year, and now it’s impossible for her to be the same as she was before. Not when her feelings have such a strong grip on her heart. Not when she and her twin sister, Naomi, seem to be drifting apart. So when Elodee’s mom gets a new job in Eventown, moving seems like it might just fix everything.Indeed, life in Eventown is comforting and exc...

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Title:Eventown
Author:Corey Ann Haydu
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Eventown Reviews

  • Mandy Stallard

    I am a huge fan of

    by

    , so I was thrilled that she shared an ARC of her newest book,

    , with #BookPosse. This middle-grade novel will publish in February 2019, so you will have to wait a while to get your hands on it, but I promise it will be worth the wait.

    We meet twin sisters, Elodee and Naomi, on their last day in their hometown of Juniper. Things have been difficult for their family for a while; something terrible happened, and now they are sad all

    I am a huge fan of

    by

    , so I was thrilled that she shared an ARC of her newest book,

    , with #BookPosse. This middle-grade novel will publish in February 2019, so you will have to wait a while to get your hands on it, but I promise it will be worth the wait.

    We meet twin sisters, Elodee and Naomi, on their last day in their hometown of Juniper. Things have been difficult for their family for a while; something terrible happened, and now they are sad all the time. Their parents decide to move the family, and they pick a small, idyllic place called Eventown. Everything seems perfect in Eventown; the food Elodee cooks tastes better than it ever has before; her father's rosebush from Juniper flourishes; her mom is finally happy, and shy Naomie feels right at home. Unfortunately, Elodee is having more trouble assimilating. A visit to the Eventown Welcoming Center is guaranteed to help Elodee fit in with everyone else. Unfortunately, her visit is cut short, and after that day, things start to go a little haywire in Eventown. Elodee starts questioning Eventown's perfection. The beautiful library is full of books with blank pages. The delicious ice cream shop only has three different flavors. There is only one song in all of Eventown. How can a place be perfect when everything and everyone is the same?

    I must admit that I was a bit frustrated with this book when I was a 100 pages in and still had no idea what awful thing had happened to Elodee's family. We know that it was something sad that upended the family's lives, but we have no clue what happened to make them feel the need for a fresh start. I was desperate to know what trauma they were trying to escape, and I was getting angry that it seemed like I was never going to find out. I was just being too impatient because we finally learn about their tragic past in the most perfect way. This book would not have been as powerful if Haydu had chosen to reveal their loss at the beginning or even middle of the book. By waiting until the end of the book, we feel the family's loss even more.

    Haydu's newest novel shows readers that "love is messy," but that messy can be beautiful and necessary. Our emotions are not isolated; we can be happy and sad at the same time. Sometimes we need to revisit events from our past, even if they are sad, to appreciate what we have in the present. This novel presents valuable life lessons (the importance of remembering the past and appreciating differences) in a very accessible way for middle-grade students.

    is a must-add to classroom and school libraries.

  • Betsy

    Every year various dictionaries and encyclopedias try to determine what the Word of the Year is, and every year they make some pretty good choices. Here’s one that I don’t think they’ve done yet, but that’s been on a lot of minds anyway: Discomfort. There’s been a lot of talk about it lately, particularly in terms of the value of uncomfortable/valuable conversations. I am, personally, a person who tends to avoid discomfort at all costs, and my privilege is that I can too often do so. Only becaus

    Every year various dictionaries and encyclopedias try to determine what the Word of the Year is, and every year they make some pretty good choices. Here’s one that I don’t think they’ve done yet, but that’s been on a lot of minds anyway: Discomfort. There’s been a lot of talk about it lately, particularly in terms of the value of uncomfortable/valuable conversations. I am, personally, a person who tends to avoid discomfort at all costs, and my privilege is that I can too often do so. Only because I live in this age and this era of America can I see where avoiding the messiness of living in this world is potentially dangerous, not to mention irresponsible. So, to the year 2019, I hand this middle grade novel. In

    by Corey Ann Haydu, you’ll find a marvelous defense of messiness, mistakes, and uncomfortable conversations. We all want to run away from our problems, but it’s like that old phrase says: Be careful what you wish for.

    It happened in the past. It hurt. Now Elodee’s family is in pain. Her father, her mother, her twin sister Naomi, and Elodee herself all feel burdened by something that they can’t even talk about anymore. So when Elodee and Naomi’s mom gets a job working for the village of Eventown, they simply cannot believe their luck. Eventown’s the kind of place where you can get a fresh start. It’s where the neighbors all get together to make you a recipe box of delicious things you couldn’t burn or ruin if you tried. Where the kids in school never tease you. Where the sunsets are miraculous and the stars, if it’s at all possible, shine brighter than anywhere you’ve ever been. At first Elodee is swept up in the joy of living in such a place, but as time goes on she begins to see oddities. Why does her yard have weeds when no one else’s does? Why do the other kids act so aghast when she tries a different s’mores recipe? And why, oh why, can’t Elodee just give in to the place and be happy here? It takes a lot to live in Eventown, so what Elodee needs to determine is whether or not it’s worth it in the end.

    Childhood utopias automatically come outfitted with built-in weirdness. It’s part of the deal. Hogwarts had a snake in the basement. Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory had a peculiar tendency to knock off small visitors. You get the drift. These locations have a natural fantasy component that taps into a child’s ultimate desire (magic, chocolate, etc.). Less common is the idea of a perfect town. Even so, it’s there. When I was a kid I’d write short stories about a little town where I could make up all the families and characters. There was a comfort to it. Think of what Harriet M. Welch is doing in at the beginning of

    . And I think Haydu’s being very clever with this book because what’s truly fearful about Eventown is its seductiveness. Remember that line in the musical

    that Little Red Riding Hood sings about the wolf? “Nice is different than good.” Going to Eventown is like a crash course in nice vs. good. And the problem with nice, as a whole bunch of us know, is that it can be weaponized in the fight against truth.

    Reading the book I was intrigued by how the creepy elements of the tale sneak in at a glacial rate. So much so that I found myself silently chanting, “Come on other shoe … drop, man, drop. Drop, man, drop!” Drop it does, but in slow motion. Need a novel for 9-12 year olds that epitomizes the very definition of “foreshadowing”? Meet my little friend here. It knows that some of the most effective horror comes from the people we love the most. Elodee’s whole family has drunk the Eventown Kool-Aid without so much as a blink, but she doesn’t see that for a long time. Instead, she has to encounter what I consider one of the most frightening concepts of all time. Loving, patient kindness combined with insane actions, resulting in the kind of villainy I’ve never really seen in a children’s book before. The adults in this town aren’t passive aggressive so much as they’re completely dedicated to horrible inanities. Let’s put it this way: You can’t help but like a book where the foreshadowing centers around a town’s lack of library. Or, even better, the horror of what it becomes. Honestly, not since

    has a library been as much of a lie as the one found here. What happens to the town library will strike many kids as an unspeakable crime. It’s a very clever means of turning kids against the notion of comfort and stability at any cost.

    As I read, I kept finding natural connections to this book. Certainly in terms of cinema this book is pure

    meets

    . In terms of children’s books the tie-in is

    (more on that later). I was even reminded of that moment in

    where Meg confronts It and must parse the difference between equal and the same. But when I really sat down and thought about it, the best equivalent to this, in a lot of ways, is Aldous Huxley’s,

    . It might as well be Elodee saying “I'd rather be myself . . . Myself and nasty. Not somebody else, however jolly.” Or, “If one's different, one's bound to be lonely.” And, ultimately, the perfect quote for it all: “Actual happiness always looks pretty squalid in comparison with the overcompensations for misery. And, of course, stability isn't nearly so spectacular as instability. And being contented has none of the glamour of a good fight against misfortune, none of the picturesqueness of a struggle with temptation, or a fatal overthrow by passion or doubt. Happiness is never grand.” Huxley said it first, but it’s nice to have something on a younger level for the kids.

    is the perfect gateway drug for “Brave New World” later on.

    I mean, this might be an out there idea, but is it possible that this book is a metaphor for what it feels like to have depression? Elodee is constantly having to defend herself against the accusation of not trying to be happy. Her sister says, “You’re making something easy so hard.” Here’s how Elodee thinks of it instead, “There’s a grip in my heart, and Naomi’s right here but she feels a million miles away, on a whole other planet, and she gets to be there with Mom and Dad and I’m stuck here, on my weird little planet all alone. I want to explain all of that to her, but every time I try to explain what is making me feel unsettled or weird, all I do is get further and further away.” When her sister tries to cheer her up (with guilt, which in my experience

    works so very very well) it says, “… I try to make Naomi grinning at me enough to make me grin too. I am trying so, so hard.” All throughout the book Elodee has to deal with a world where she feels like she’s the only one who has to try this hard. It’s a deeply lonely experience, and I couldn’t help but think of people with depression who have to deal with concerned friends and family members who say unhelpful things like, “Why don’t you just get over yourself?” and “Why don’t you want to be happy?” Like Elodee says, they try so, so hard, but often that’s not the issue. The real issue is deep and buried. In the case of this book, literally so.

    Again, the book that I kept thinking about the most as I read this was

    by Laurel Snyder. In both cases you have a mysterious location, otherworldly occurrences, and a girl on the cusp of teenagerhood with whom the world does not sit well. Both live in kinds of utopias. There the similarities stop, though. In

    things start to go wrong because the heroine questions the way things are, and that’s a bad thing. In

    things start to go wrong because the heroine questions the way things are, and that’s a good thing. In both books she dares to question the world. In only one book does that choice go well. Why do these books ring oddly true with kids? Because in the real world, adults withhold pertinent information from their children all the time. This is not necessarily a bad thing since there are many things in this world that kids just aren’t ready to know. I guess the root of it is, to a certain extent, intent. Are you keeping kids in the dark because it protects them or because it protects you?

    I wouldn’t think of this, any of this if it weren’t for Haydu putting it all together so well. There’s a patience to her writing. She must have had so much fun thinking up exactly how much fun to make Eventown. The different flavors of ice cream, the delicious green strawberries, the waterfalls, the gigantic blueberries, the butterfly house, the copper cooking equipment, all of it. Her book burns slow, but once things start getting weird it speeds up considerably, like weeds spreading in the night. I liked a lot of how she chose to phrase things, like when Elodee thinks of herself as, “…a tiny, cozy, ball of limbs.” Or when the dad says, “Love has a lot to do with imperfections,” which may as well be the theme of the book itself. The only part of the book that didn’t quite gel with me came at the end. I liked where the book went, but (and this is a funny thing to say) it felt too tidy. Not messy enough. There was satisfaction there, but I think it needed just a hair more of a conclusion. There’s a big discovery, words are said, words are listened to, and then we’re outta here!! The mom, especially, does a turnaround that didn’t feel real to me. I needed a little more thought there. Kids would probably not agree.

    Years ago there was an episode of the Radiolab podcast about a moment in history when a scientist truly believed he might have found a way to remove select memories from people’s brains. The scientist was then flooded with desperate requests from people around the world. These people were begging him to remove the pain of the past from their brains. This connects, for me, to the moment in this book when it starts to rain. When that happens, some of the neighbors go out of their way to express pure fury at Elodee’s family. It’s very much a case of them essentially saying, “Your discomfort is reminding me of my discomfort.” We want so very much to find ourselves a blank slate of some sort. No bad past, no fearful future. And kids, the age of the readers of this book, already have a sense of this. Some of this book’s readers will have encountered fearful, horrible, terrible things in their pasts. Some of them will encounter these things in their futures. And a bunch of them will look at Eventown, even with all its flaws, and want to go there in the same way that kids have wanted to go to Hogwarts for years. There is no Eventown. Not even Eventown is Eventown. I won’t tell you that’s good or bad. You’re just going to have to read this book and decide for yourself.

    For ages 9-12.

  • Kathryn

    I'm not a huge elementary reader, but I

    It starts as a typical upper elementary read, so its

    Welcome to Eventown.

    Where everything seems like the perfect summer day. At lea

    I'm not a huge elementary reader, but I

    It starts as a typical upper elementary read, so its

    Welcome to Eventown.

    Where everything seems like the perfect summer day. At least on the surface.

    Every person who moves to Eventown has a session at the “Welcoming Center.” After telling your stories—including the scariest & most embarrassing--

    Never to be recalled.

    From the description, you can tell

    The beginning is a little choppy, but as Elodee's family enters EVENTOWN the story quickly picks up pace. Like Stepford or its many counterparts,

    But soon she notices something amiss beneath EVENTOWN's impeccable exterior.

    As with most elementary books, the writing is simple. However the plot isn't.

    Seriously, THE FAULT IN OUR STARS is child's play compared to EVENTOWN. Even writing this review makes me a little teary.

    Their differing attitudes toward Eventown is a great metaphor for their developing separation. As you come-of-age, you may be different from your twin (or friends) and that's okay.

    A must-read

  • Kate Willis

    I love this book for its intriguing cover and review by Rebecca Stead.

    Its truth about family and sisters and sorrow, and its truth about family and sisters growing apart because of sorrow. (Dad’s sighs were particularly accurate.)

    Its portrayal of an easy world perfect for a fresh start.

    Baking and blueberries and ice cream and s’mores and faded freckles and a rose but that would not be tamed.

    A slow reveal of what the tragedy was and how the eerily idyllic Eventown worked.

    I love this book for its intriguing cover and review by Rebecca Stead.

    Its truth about family and sisters and sorrow, and its truth about family and sisters growing apart because of sorrow. (Dad’s sighs were particularly accurate.)

    Its portrayal of an easy world perfect for a fresh start.

    Baking and blueberries and ice cream and s’mores and faded freckles and a rose but that would not be tamed.

    A slow reveal of what the tragedy was and how the eerily idyllic Eventown worked.

    Sparks.

    Just a note, there was one blasphemy and mentions of hard things including

    Also, one side character has lesbian parents who figure highly into the last quarter of the book.

    Altogether, this was a surprisingly profound (but slightly problematic) read.

    If you need me, I’ll be out in the rain eating olive-oil jasmine cake with white chocolate pear frosting. <3

  • Chance Lee

    With a blurb from Rebecca Stead,

    was a highly anticipated book for me. However, I found it too slow-paced for its climax, which hinges on a reveal of information that is only hidden because of narrative manipulation.

    is narrated by Elodee, a sixth-grader who bakes cookies for people based on their personalities. She has a twin sister, Naomi, who likes gymnastics so much she does cartwheels almost as much as she walks. They have a dad who likes to garden and a mom who... not qui

    With a blurb from Rebecca Stead,

    was a highly anticipated book for me. However, I found it too slow-paced for its climax, which hinges on a reveal of information that is only hidden because of narrative manipulation.

    is narrated by Elodee, a sixth-grader who bakes cookies for people based on their personalities. She has a twin sister, Naomi, who likes gymnastics so much she does cartwheels almost as much as she walks. They have a dad who likes to garden and a mom who... not quite sure what she does.

    The family is leaving their town of Juniper because of some sort of unspoken trauma. Elodee, the narrator, knows what happened to her family, she just decides not to tell the reader about it. The family decides to move to Eventown, a homogenous community that I wanted to be more

    but is really more like

    but boring. Everyone is happy in Eventown, and you know that because every single chapter for half the books ends with how perfect Eventown is.

    Almost halfway through, the girls are "welcomed" in a ceremony that's part

    but mostly

    . Elodee then forgets the unspoken family trauma. With the trauma going unspoken

    and finally, the trauma is revealed. It's exactly what you think it is. Then there's cake. The end.

    Haydu has a gift for vivid descriptions, and I did appreciate Elodee as a character with anger-management issues, but I didn't feel there was enough meaty content in this book to sustain it for 300+ pages when I could read only the first and last sentence of each chapter and understand exactly what was going on.

    Also, my copy of the book has a huge typo in which Chapter 2 is titled "The Only Pretty Thing in

    " but the town is called

    making me think my dyslexia flared up.

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