When growing up becomes too overwhelming, escape to a place where troubles don’t exist….
Or where you can pretend they don’t. Margaret has run away to Foreverland, an amusement park in full summer splendor. She plans to hide out after closing, gorging on junk food and evading park security. Complicating this brilliant scheme is the tanned, black-haired, Spanish-speaking “Mystery Boy” she keeps seeing and who appears totally at home in the park. But what’s his story? For a severely anxious girl with an affinity for acrostic poetry, this is an extreme rebellion. It goes to show how intense the changes have recently been in Margaret’s life, particularly an ominous red suitcase by the front door: Her parents are on the brink of divorce. Kear depicts this already-sensitive white preteen in a light that validates all her feelings; similarly, the emotional struggles of the Puerto Rican boy, Jaime, are sympathetically rendered. Margaret’s observational distance from others, a product of her need to go unnoticed as well as her personal inclinations, means readers spend a lot of time in her head. The stable but widely varied landscape of the amusement park banishes any danger of dullness. Foreverland “isn’t a theme park like Disneyland or whatever,” but it nevertheless has several Disney-esque features, like the word “magic” splashed everywhere. The carnival atmosphere, however, evokes more of a Coney Island feel appropriate to the location just outside of New York City. Kear includes gently placed Peter Pan references for those familiar with the tale.
This alternatingly touching and suspenseful adventure captures some real-life magic. (Fiction. 9-12)