Five close friends—who used to be six until one of them died—are together again a year after their graduation from boarding school.
Heading back to the mansion where they’re staying following a punk-rock concert in Newport, Rhode Island, they nearly collide with a tow truck and barrel off the road into a ditch, setting up a strange journey into the unknown. A mysterious man who calls himself the Keeper tells Beatrice, Kipling, Whitley, Cannon, and Martha that they are trapped in a Groundhog Day–like existence called Neverworld Wake. They will remain in this limbo until the point when they decide which one of them may return to the world of the living. In her young adult debut, Pessl (Night Film, 2013, etc.) manages to keep her first-person narrative moving forward while her characters are stuck in time. She offers philosophical meditations on the meaning of life and death, although they frequently seem imparted by the author rather than arrived at by Beatrice, the narrator, who, having just finished her freshman year at Emerson College, seems too short on life experiences for the depth of these reflections. Given their ghostly state, the characters (all assumed white) are fully fleshed out, each seeking a way to cope in their Neverland existence.
An eloquent and haunting tale, especially for philosophically-minded readers. (Fiction. 13-18)