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Never Look Back
Cover of Never Look Back
Never Look Back
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"Expertly blends reality and fantasy to explore what's behind love and loss, what it takes to heal." - Randy Ribay, author of National Book Award finalist Patron Saints of NothingAcclaimed author...
"Expertly blends reality and fantasy to explore what's behind love and loss, what it takes to heal." - Randy Ribay, author of National Book Award finalist Patron Saints of NothingAcclaimed author...
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  • "Expertly blends reality and fantasy to explore what's behind love and loss, what it takes to heal." - Randy Ribay, author of National Book Award finalist Patron Saints of Nothing

    Acclaimed author Lilliam Rivera blends a touch of magical realism into a timely story about cultural identity, overcoming trauma, and the power of first love.
    Eury comes to the Bronx as a girl haunted. Haunted by losing everything in Hurricane Maria—and by an evil spirit, Ato. She fully expects the tragedy that befell her and her family in Puerto Rico to catch up with her in New York. Yet, for a time, she can almost set this fear aside, because there's this boy . . .

    Pheus is a golden-voiced, bachata-singing charmer, ready to spend the summer on the beach with his friends, serenading his on-again, off-again flame. That changes when he meets Eury. All he wants is to put a smile on her face and fight off her demons. But some dangers are too powerful for even the strongest love, and as the world threatens to tear them apart, Eury and Pheus must fight for each other and their lives.
    Featuring contemporary Afro-Latinx characters, this retelling of the Greek myth Orpheus and Eurydice is perfect for fans of Ibi Zoboi's Pride and Daniel José Older's Shadowshaper.
 

Awards-

Reviews-

  • Kirkus

    July 15, 2020
    An otherworldly Latinx retelling of the Orpheus and Eurydice myth set in the South Bronx. Pheus visits his father in the Bronx every summer. The Afro-Dominican teen is known for his mesmerizing bachata music, love of history, and smooth way with the ladies. Eury, a young Puerto Rican woman and Hurricane Maria survivor, is staying with her cousin for the summer because of a recent, unspecified traumatic event. Her family doesn't know that she's been plagued since childhood by the demonlike Ato. Pheus and Eury bond over music and quickly fall in love. Attacked at a dance club by Sileno, its salacious and satyrlike owner, Eury falls into a coma and is taken to el Inframundo by Ato. Pheus, despite his atheism, follows the advice of his father and a local bruja to journey to find his love in the Underworld. Rivera skillfully captures the sounds and feels of the Bronx--its unique, diverse culture and the creeping gentrification of its neighborhoods. Through an amalgamation of Greek, Roman, and Ta�no mythology and religious beliefs, gaslighting, the colonization of Puerto Rico, Afro-Latinidad identity, and female empowerment are woven into the narrative. While the pacing lags in the middle, secondary characters aren't fully developed, and the couple's relationship borders on instalove, the rush of a summertime romance feels realistic. Rivera's complex world is well realized, and the dialogue rings true. All protagonists are Latinx. This fresh reworking of a Greek myth will resonate. (Fabulism. 14-adult)

    COPYRIGHT(2020) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Booklist

    July 1, 2020
    Grades 9-12 Pheus can have any girl he wants, thanks to the soulful music he creates. Yet none has captivated him more than the mysterious Eury. Eury's coyness is not a game, however. She harbors a dangerous secret?Ato, the embodiment of Death, follows her, visiting misfortune on anyone receiving her affection. Even worse is that no one believes that Ato exists. When, by chance, Pheus catches a glimpse of Ato, Eury finally feels like there is a chance for freedom. They must work together, braving the underworld itself, if Eury has any chance of escaping her fate. Rivera (Dealing in Dreams, 2019) retells the Greek tragedy of Orpheus and Eurydice, setting it in a magic-filled version of the Bronx, infused with the borough's Puerto Rican and Dominican cultures. She showcases her masterful grasp of setting, integrating the complexities of the modern day with the gauzy haze of ancient myth through a slow, careful unveiling. Best of all, Rivera revises the original tale to give Eury her own voice, allowing her to fill a heroic role all her own.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2020, American Library Association.)

  • School Library Journal

    Starred review from October 1, 2020

    Gr 9 Up-This is a modern retelling of the Orpheus and Eurydice Greek myth featuring Latinx teens. Eury and her mother lost their home to Hurricane Maria but Eury knows it was no ordinary storm. The death spirit Ato befriended Eury as a child. As she grew older, he became more possessive and sinister, wreaking havoc to get her attention and promising to take her to el Inframundo, the Underworld, so they could be together forever. No one believes Eury and she is wary of trusting people with her secret. While visiting her cousin in the Bronx, she meets Pheus, a talented and charming Afro-Dominican bachata musician. Pheus wants to spend all his time getting to know Eury and soon learns that her traumatic experience in Puerto Rico was created by a supernatural being, something outside of his comfort zone. Spending time with Eury makes him reevaluate his life, the way his friends treat others, and his casual romances. When Ato finally succeeds in taking Eury to the Underworld, Pheus risks everything to bring her back but must follow the cardinal rule of all myths: Don't turn around. This book seamlessly blends Caribbean and Greek myth into a contemporary teen novel, exploring realistic aspects of identity, stereotypes, trauma, and romance. VERDICT This #OwnVoices novel is highly recommended for all teen collections. No prior knowledge of the original myth is needed, but readers may be inspired to research it after devouring this compelling and updated retelling.-Marissa Lieberman, East Orange P.L., NJ

    Copyright 2020 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Randy Ribay, author of National Book Award Finalist PATRON SAINTS OF NOTHING A revitalized and layered retelling that expertly blends reality and fantasy to explore what's behind love and loss, what it takes to heal.
  • Mark Oshiro, author of ANGER IS A GIFT Haunting and richly detailed, this is a beautiful re-imagining that will hurt and heal, sometimes on the same page.
  • Elana K. Arnold, Printz Honor-winning author of DAMSEL Never Look Back reimagines the Orpheus myth into a bold creation that only Lilliam Rivera could breathe into life. A strange, unsettling love song of a book.
  • School Library Journal, starred review Seamlessly blends Caribbean and Greek myth into a contemporary teen novel, exploring realistic aspects of identity, stereotypes, trauma, and romance.
  • BookPage, starred review Honors the Afro Latinx music, language, heritage and history of its characters. . . . Defying expectation and categorization, Never Look Back is a book not to be read with the mind but to be experienced with the soul. It is a revelation.
  • Women's Health One of the most anticipated books of 2020.
  • Kirkus Reviews This fresh reworking of a Greek myth will resonate.
  • Girls' Life If you wanted to hold on to those rollercoaster beach-side romances a little bit long, we highly recommend this one.
  • School Library Connection Combines realism with magic along with an exploration of the critical need for better mental health care. . . . An emotionally challenging journey filled with peril and truth-telling.
  • Shelf Awareness Reader Rivera masterfully intertwines ancient and modern lore, leaving readers gasping for breath by the authentic but satisfying conclusion.
  • The Horn Book Magazine This detailed reimagining of the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice mixes contemporary realism with fantasy.
  • Daniel José Older, author of the New York Times bestselling series Shadowshaper Cypher, on DEALING IN DREAMS As brutal as it is beautiful, Dealing in Dreams pulls no punches, launching us on a wild, relentless ride through the cutthroat streets of this brilliantly-realized dystopian world.
  • Matt de la Peña, acclaimed author of LAST STOP ON MARKET STREET, on THE EDUCATION OF MARGOT SANCHEZ Introducing Lilliam Rivera, one of the most unique and exciting new voices in YA.The Education of Margot Sanchez is funny, poignant, compelling and authentic.
  • Isabel Quintero, author of GABI: A GIRL IN PIECES, on THE EDUCATION OF MARGOT SANCHEZ Shatters the myth of assimilation by exposing the loss and ache that comes with it. Instead, Lilliam Rivera tells the reader that there is nothing more powerful and beautiful than staying true to oneself.
  • Booklist, starred review, on DEALING IN DREAMS Taking cues from Judge Dredd, Mad Max, and The Hunger Games, Rivera . . . has created a uniquely brutal hellscape. . . . Readers are left with a more ambiguous—and ambitious—tale that will have them questioning what kinds of people they'd be if freed from society's mores.
  • SLJ, starred review, on DEALING IN DREAMS Rivera effectively presents the complexity of female relationships, which will resonate strongly with readers. . . . A novel exploration of societal roles, gender, and equality through the eyes of captivating lead.
  • Booklist on THE EDUCATION OF MARGOT SANCHEZ A debut of great candor, depth, and empathy.

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