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Middle Grade Fiction 209
Stuck in middle school... forever!
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Ivy has one goal: to get through high schools as quickly as possible so she can go to a good college and become a supreme court justice like Ruth Bader Ginsberg. Ginsberg was motivational to Ivy's mother, who has recently passed away. Feeling that her own school won't help her reach this goal, Ivy takes the entrance exam for West Archer Academy, an exclusive boarding school her great grandmother Gigi attended. The exam is a bit odd; the answers are circled, but Ivy ignores them and puts in her own answers. Not only that, but she's approached by a girl named Abigale who thinks that Ivy looks familiar. Ivy gets in, and is excited even though it means being away from home. Her roommate is none other than Abigail, who shares astonishing news with her. We also meet new student Ronan, from Ivy's hometown, who has a secret. Like his mother, who works as a pyschic adviser, Ronan can see people's futures just by touching them. He was hoping to avoid this fate, but a few days after his 13th birthday, his skills made themselves known. Abigail quickly confides in Ivy the fact that she and several other students, including Tim, Dom, and Este, are hundreds of years old. They regenerate every night, so never age, and are never injured for long, although they can be killed. Ivy looks like Abigail's best friend, Grace, who decided 79 years ago to stop being immortal, and disappeared. Abigail hopes that Ivy can help her locate her friend. Being an "Ever" has a lot of problems. but West Archer Academy, and especially the librarian, Ms. Strange (who dresses "the way someone dressing like a librarian for Halloween would dress", a similar comment which has been made by my own students about my clothing!), who has kept their secret and helps them out by making sure they are readmitted every few years. Ivy's research is successful in locating Grace, but there are a lot of problems that go along with this identification. Este, who is responsible for the eternal tweendom of several of the Evers, doesn't want this information known, especially since Grace managed to short circuit her immortality and has aged considerably. When Ronan accidentally touches Ivy, he is alarmed to see great harm come to her, and tries to circumvent it. He can't, and circumstances occur that give more pressing reasons for both Abigail and Ivy to learn more about the Evers. Is it still safe for them to remain at West Archer Academy for book two in this projected duology?

Good Points
This had some great twists and turns within the well developed framework of the Evers mythos that were quite intriguing. Middle school students would completely believe that one of their classmates was immortal, or had psychic powers. While I wondered about the wisdom of having both the Evers and Ronan's psychic abilities in one book, the story eventually made it clear that they were intertwined. There's a good balance of friend drama, history, boarding school details, and deeper feelings of Something Evil that worked really well. There's definitely room for another story, but it's a relief to know that it's just one more book and not eight! The thing that I liked best was that the Evers had a solid feel for the pluses and minuses of immortality, but didn't all agree on one position. This sets it apart from books like Twilight or other vampire tales where the nuances of living for hundreds of years isn't really addressed. One detail that was somehow especially bittersweet was the fact that Abigail has two broken fingernails that never grow back, since the tweens always return overnight to exactly the way they were when they died. Luckily, none of them had a particularly noteworthy zit!

I've been at my school for 25 years, and if the same students reappeared every ten years, there are several of us who would notice! It seemed like the Evers would have managed to retain some sort of adult manager over the years who could help, sort of like The Mennyms did in Sylvia Waugh's wonderful tales. Granted, this is more of an adult concern.

Did you love Babbitt's Tuck Everlasting? Did you think long and hard about what your choice would be? Then you need this book! I can't think of another book that handles immortality in quite the same way, althought Saunders' The Whizz Pop Chocolate Shop skirts around it. Definitely purchasing.
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