Aiden Thomas's Cemetery Boys was one of my favorite books of the year in 2021, so I'm not sure why it took me so long to pick up Lost in the Never Woods, his gorgoous, YA, modern retelling of Peter Pan.
Wendy has basically been surviving since she and her brothers disappeared five years before. She returned after a few months, dressed in strange clothing, with no memories of where she'd been, but there's been no sign of her brothers. She and her parents have avoided talking about the tragedy, and Wendy has come to exist in solitude except for her best friend, just waiting for the day they can go to college and escape the absence her brothers have left. Recently, though, kids have started disappearing, and Wendy has to work harder not to think about those missing months.
One night, Wendy is on her way home from work and decides to take a short cut through the woods, despite her parents' warnings against them, and she nearly hits a boy who looks just like the face she's been compulsively drawing for months.
Thomas's decision to shift this retelling to Wendy's point of view works beautifully, allowing the author to consider grief and recovery as well as the inevitable transition into adulthood. His curation of that original story, the details he included and those he transformed, are just delightful.
I'm Jen Moyers, co-host of the Unabridged Podcast and an English teacher.