In this thought-provoking novel, 11-year-old twin and experimental cook Elodee and her family leave behind an undefined sorrow for a new start in utopian Eventown, which eschews television, cars, and the internet; where everyone lives in identical houses; and where the air tastes like blueberries. Upon arrival, newcomers must visit the Welcoming Center to tell six critical stories—their most intense experiences of fear, embarrassment, anger, loneliness, joy, and heartbreak. An interruption in Elodee’s storytelling leaves her with her memories intact, whereas her twin Naomi can no longer remember her told memories from their past life and revels in the placid conformity of the town, with its library of blank books and single song: the “Eventown Anthem.” As the twins grow apart, Haydu ( Rules for Stealing Stars) sketches the sinister underpinnings of this seemingly perfect place, especially its pressure to conform in all things—even baking without a recipe or planting a treasured rose veers from the town’s established (and always perfect) order. Ultimately, this memorable and brave heroine chooses sometimes painful stories, memories, and love in favor of a sanitized perfection. Ages 8–12. Agent: Victoria Marini, Irene Goodman Agency. (Feb.)
Haydu brings a different dimension with real poignancy... less
The Giver and more Pleasantville... [ Eventown] will reel in readers looking for family dramas as well as those seeking a little ideological stretching, and it will leave them with plenty to discuss about the price of walling yourself off from pain.
Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
A marvelous defense of messiness, mistakes, and uncomfortable conversations ... this book is pure
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind meets Pleasantville.”
Would life be better if we could forget the past? That’s the question Corey Ann Haydu poses in her engrossing
Eventown. With its embedded questions about the consequences of erasing all your problems, Eventown will doubtless hit many a middle grade reader’s sweet spot.
New York Times Book Review
Corey Ann Haydu doesn’t shy away from tough topics in her books.
Eventown is no exception.
[An] original, thought-provoking and engaging novel exploring how our stories shape us and can help us heal from even the most terrible loss... Haydu offers an inspired creation in the “perfect world” of Eventown.
The Someday Suitcase:“A touch of magic, the promise of snow, and so much love I can barely keep it together to write this sentence. I know Clover and Danny will stick with me for a long, long time.
Beautiful, true, and magical. This book touched my heart.
★ “[A] lyrical story of love and loss. The way the sisters fight and love in equal measure, as well as their basic need for one another, rings poignantly true in this touching and heartwarming story, which contains a ‘tiny bit of magic, right here in the real world.
Booklist (starred review)
★ “In this moving, exquisitely written story, Corey Ann Haydu explores the thin line between science and magic within an intense bond of friendship.
Shelf Awareness (starred review)
Tender, wise, and heartbreakingly lovely, this story is as brilliant as a stolen star, and every bit as magical. Prepare to be enchanted.
A gorgeous, profound, deeply felt book that lovingly explores intricate sibling relationships, the crushing weight of family secrets, and the delicate magic of hope.
Rules for Stealing Stars is sublime.
Silly and her sisters are flesh-and-bone characters; they gripped me by my very heart and pulled me into their tense and mysterious family story. With beguiling moments of magical realism and engaging turns of phrase, Corey Ann Haydu has crafted a glowing middle grade debut.
A wonderful and inventive story about being a kid in an imperfect world—beautiful, mysterious, and deeply satisfying.
Readers will feel for the brave, unconventional Elodee, who both affirms her individuality but also feels the loneliness of it... A hope-tinged tale about the long aftermath of tragedy.
Gr 5–7—What would you give up to always be content, to never experience grief or intense anger? Would you give up choice, variety, creativity, joy? These are exactly the questions addressed when Elodee and her twin sister Naomi move with their parents to Eventown in order to get a fresh start in their lives. The family has experienced something terrible—an unknown event from which they have not been able to recover. All of that changes upon the family's arrival in their new town. It is quite literally a place where the sun always shines. There are no cars needed in Eventown since everyone bikes, the neighbors are friendly, and their new school is pleasant. Her parents are happy, as if the strain on them has been lifted, and her sister fits in like a glove. Elodee is only one who feels a distant strangeness, as if it is all a little too pleasant. Elodee begins to question her "perfect" new home. She notices that all the houses look exactly the same, the library is filled with blank books, and the ice cream shop only serves three flavors. Elodee must being to unravel her family's past in order to figure out what's missing and find true emotional closure for all of them. VERDICT An emotionally complex and wonderfully told story that will capture tween readers.— Patricia Feriano, Montgomery County Public Schools, MD
Does perfection mean the erasure of all pain? Elodee wonders.
Elodee's family needs a fresh start; everyone says so. The Lively family relocates to Eventown, a planned utopia where there's no internet, TV, or cars, and all the houses look the same. Fifth-grader Elodee can't wait to bake, while her identical twin sister, Naomi, looks forward to gymnastics. Part mystery, part fabulism, with a dash of dystopia, this story is as layered and delicious as one of Elodee's concoctions. In the preteen's narration, readers immediately see the town's appeal. Who could resist a special, personalized event in Eventown's Welcoming Center? After telling your stories—the scariest, most embarrassing, most heartbreaking, loneliest, angriest, and most joyful—your memories are locked away, freeing you for the happiness of Eventown. Reluctant to give away all her stories, Elodee begins to notice imperfections and question her surroundings—the weeds in their yard, how she and Naomi are drifting apart, what exactly her family wanted to forget. It's the last that drives Elodee to search for the truth about her past. In the process, she awakens Eventown's citizens to their feelings and connects her family through their shared stories. Although not as dark as
The Giver, the narrative will evoke comparisons about the nature of perfection and the importance of memories. The Livelys present white, as does most of Eventown; one family integral to the plot is originally from India.
At once enchanting, heart-rending, and bittersweet—just as Elodee would want it.