Orphans, Angels, and THE ROAD TO EVER AFTER

Lynn: If you have a taste from something different, I have a book for you! Take a little Oliver Twist, a big helping of It’s a Wonderful Life, a measure of Gabrielle Zevin’s Elsewhere (2005), and a dash of Polly Horvath, and you have a sense of Moira Young’s first middle-grade book, The Road to Ever After (2017).

There are times and towns that are “blind to angels,” and Brownvale is just such a The Road to Ever After by Moira Youngplace. Young Davy David sneaks out of the orphanage in the early dawn to draw Renaissance angels, copied from paintings in a library book, in the dust of the streets. When he runs into trouble with the town’s tyrannical Parson Fall, Davy realizes that he has to leave town. Fortunately, the ancient and reclusive Miss Flint offers to pay Davy to drive her to her family home to the sea, where she plans to commit suicide on Christmas Day. Reluctant at first, Davy, a small stray dog, and Miss Flint set out on an adventure that includes releasing an entire truckload of turkeys and stealing a police car.

As their journey continues, the three unlikely road warriors bond, then Davy makes a startling discovery: Miss Flint is growing younger as the miles go by. “What if it’s a miracle,” asks Davy. Miss Flint doesn’t believe in miracles, asserting that there is a “rational explanation for everything.” But soon it is clear that no one else can see Miss Flint at all.

Quirky and tender, the book features lovely writing with memorable descriptive phrases throughout. Like the mischievous breeze in the story, Young blows in fascinating characters and settings. Some settle and some fly away again, leaving readers to wonder or finish those stories themselves. Like Davy, readers are urged to create their own pictures of all that is happening.

The relationship between Miss Flint and Davy is central and solid, anchoring the airy tale of chances taken and missed, the courage to create, and the open-ended possibilities of a world we only think we know.

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About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

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