Release Date: February 15, 2022
Publisher: Bold Strokes Books
Genre: Young Adult
It all began with trying to fly. After jumping off the roof of his house in the middle of the night, Daniel Kim wakes up far from Neverland, his reprieve from the real world. Thrust into a mental health hospital and then into a brand-new high school, he struggles to hold onto reality while haunted by both his very-present past and his never-present parents. But when he joins Cranbrook Preparatory’s cross-country team, he starts to feel like he’s walking on his own two feet once again. He meets Jiwon Yoon–another cross-country runner, who may be the first person to join Daniel in his Neverland daydreams. Or maybe Jiwon is the one who will finally break Daniel free.
Based on the cover copy, I expected this to be more in the speculative realm, but it’s not. Neverland here functions as more of a dissociation technique. There’s also a lot of cross-country stuff. Although that stuff was my least favorite part of the novel, Lauren Melissa Ellzey uses well as a way to demonstrate Daniel’s growth. In other words, it’s important to the plot, but it’s just not my personal jam.
The story overall is interesting and engaging. The development of Daniel and his love interest Jiwon is compelling. I liked the way Ellzey explored their blossoming relationship to a slow burn as they sorted out their feelings for each other, their families, and their own identities.
This is a heavy read for YA, maybe a little too heavy, but overall I think the issues of mental health being closeted due to an unsafe home environment are handled well.
Buy it at Bookshop.org (affiliate link)