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Eventown

Book review by
Mary Eisenhart, Common Sense Media
Eventown Book Poster Image
Imaginative fantasy deals with grief, memory, conformity.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Eleven-year-old narrator Elodee has a good vocabulary (for example, "incessant," "precarious") and talks a lot about the fine points of cooking (and what can go wrong). She and twin Naomi love books and mention several of their favorites, like Blueberries for Sal. She also loves Beatles songs.

Positive Messages

Strong themes of love, family, friendship, courage, forgiveness, being who you are. It matters to remember things, even when they're painful.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Just about all the characters are well-meaning but damaged. They have only the best intentions, but that leads them to some pretty strange places in the conformity -- and brainwashing -- they demand of their neighbors and family members. Besides 11-year-old Elodee, who's constantly worried and conflicted but not quite ready to go along with the program, a few adults, notably her friend Veena's parents, keep some independence and resist the pressure.

Violence

A family member's suicide in the past has far-reaching consequences for some characters. In order to live in Eventown, people have their memories wiped of things that hurt them in their previous lives. A tween character slams an obnoxious classmate against the wall. A character hacks a beloved rosebush to bits.

Sex

Elodee's slightly embarrassed when her mom kisses her dad.

Language
Consumerism

Several places like Olive Garden, McDonald's, etc. are mentioned when kids wonder if they'll be in Eventown.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Eventown is a multilayered fable about a family who, in the wake of an unspecified but traumatic event, move to the community of the title, where everything's perfect, to make a new start. Author Corey Ann Haydu brings an engaging mix of heart, humor, tragedy, and a bit of creepiness as 11-year-old narrator Elodee struggles to figure out the right thing to do, what's going on with her family, and how to deal with the fact that she and her identical twin Naomi aren't so identical anymore. Lurking in the background are the various painful experiences that caused people to flee to Eventown in the first place, which include racism, xenophobia, natural disasters, and a family member's suicide. 

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What's the story?

Something bad happened to 11-year-old Elodee's family a while back, and her parents have decided to move them all to EVENTOWN to make a fresh start. They've been there before, and it was perfect. When Elodee, twin sister Naomi, and her parents start settling in, they find lots to love in the pretty town with cute, identical houses, great ice cream, amazing weather ... And after her parents and Naomi have had a number of their memories removed at the Welcoming Center, they're fitting in just fine. Elodee's forgetting quite a lot of her previous life already, but she's not sure she wants to give up some of what she can recall, even if she's not sure why it matters.

Is it any good?

Corey Ann Haydu spins an intriguing, imaginative, heartfelt, and creepy tale of a family that seeks refuge and a new beginning in a town where everything's perfect. When that perfection seems to involve losing more and more of what she loves, 11-year-old Elodee isn't so sure about Eventown, but also wonders if she's the problem, as the rest of her family seem perfectly happy with it all. Young readers of Eventown will appreciate Elodee's spirit, her ability to cut through falseness and pretense, and her struggles with fitting in (and whether she even wants to).

"What they don't know is it's Jenny who is being awful by not stopping her question asking when I obviously don't want to answer. I am angry at all of them with their tiny, almost-invisible dismissals and the not-so-tiny ways they tell us that they want everything to go back to the way it was before, not because they want us to be less sad, but because they want their own lives to be easier."

 

 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about going along with other people's idea of perfection, and what happens when you do. How does Eventown compare with other stories you know that deal with this theme?

  • Do you like to cook? Do you prefer to follow a recipe, or make things up as you go along?

  • Do you think it's important to remember things, even when they're sad? Or are you better off forgetting?

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