Eventown is a place of forgetting, but how much forgetting does that take before you forget yourself?
Eventown by Corey Ann Haydn. HarperCollins, 2019, 326 pages
Reading Level: Middle grades, ages 10-12
Recommended for: ages 10-14
Naomi and Elodee Lively are identical twins—on the outside. Inside they’re very different: Naomi loves order, regularity, and gymnastics, while Elodee is a wildly experimental cook and loudmouth. All their friends in their drab hometown of Juniper have agreed the family needs “a fresh start”—after what? We don’t know, but something has happened to their family that changed everything for them, and neither Naomi or Elodee, or their mom or dad, knows how to handle it. If your memories hurt, would you stop hurting if you could forget? That is what the move to Eventown is about.
Eventown is a pleasant, isolated community to which one new family is admitted every year. The Livelys are delighted to be approved, and determined to take almost nothing of the old life with them except one rose bush that Dad seems determined to hold on to. On their arrival, Mom and Dad spend an afternoon at the Welcome Center getting oriented. But when it’s the girls’ turn to visit the Welcome Center, a red flag goes up in Elodee’s mind.
“Some people think they can have a fresh start while still holding on to their past,” says one of the residents. “But it doesn’t work like that. You can be here, or you can be out there. But you can’t have both.” Eventown is all about forgetting, and as the reader progresses, it may begin to feel like a sealed, no-stress Community a la The Giver. The sinister edge is lacking, though: no one is compelled to stay, but all are expected to forget. Is that even possible, though? And if so, is it desirable? If “Love has a lot to do with imperfections” (an observation by Dad), is it still love when everything is perfect?
These are the kinds of questions raised by the very idea of Utopia, which literally means “nowhere.” As a reminder that perfection is a false goal and contentment is not a matter of circumstances, the story is worth pondering, and perhaps talking about.
Cautions: Language (2 misuses of God’s name), Worldview (one of the girls’ Eventown friends has two moms)
Overall rating: 3.75 (out of 5)
- Worldview/moral value: 3.75
- Artistic value: 4