Lilliam Rivera’s third young adult novel, Never Look Back, breathes new life into the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, an ancient tale of a girl gone before her time and the boy who would do anything to save her. Rivera transforms this classic tale into a symphony that intertwines the melodies of her characters, their neighborhood in the Bronx and even readers themselves. It builds to a crescendo that reverberates into your very bones, the way only the most exquisite music can.
Pheus is ready to spend the summer at his dad’s, hanging at the beach with his friends and taking full advantage of his musical talents and charm. Then Eury and her struggles arrive. Displaced after losing her home in Puerto Rico to Hurricane Maria, Eury is staying with her cousin in the Bronx to get some rest and to give her mother a break after what the family calls Eury’s “episode.” But Eury hasn’t come to New York alone. Everywhere she goes, Ato, an evil spirit, follows. When Eury and Pheus meet and sparks fly, Ato makes a move to ensure he and Eury will stay together—forever.
Never Look Back honors the Afro Latinx music, language, heritage and history of its characters. It reads like a concert, each chapter a different song, some languid and slow, keeping readers hanging on every word, others fast and staccato, whipping readers around at a dizzying pace, running to keep up and lost in a cacophonous flood of words. Defying expectation and categorization, Never Look Back is a book not to be read with the mind but to be experienced with the soul. It is a revelation.