Review of Never Look Back

Never Look Back
by Lilliam Rivera
High School    Bloomsbury    320 pp.    g
9/20    978-1-5476-0373-2    $18.99
e-book ed.  978-1-5476-0374-9    $13.29

Pheus is an Afro-Dominican, bachata-singing teen whose Bronx world is upended when he meets Eury, a Puerto Rican girl visiting New York after she is forced from her home in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. Suddenly, instead of spending his time charming girls and going to the beach, Pheus feels driven to allay the trauma that follows Eury. Eury is hoping the evil spirit Ato, who has haunted her life since childhood, won’t follow her to New York, and meeting Pheus distracts her temporarily from her troubles. But eventually, when she is attacked and falls into a coma, Ato finds her and takes her to el Inframundo (the Underworld), and Pheus follows on a quest to save her. This detailed reimagining of the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice mixes contemporary realism with fantasy, starting with the backbone of the Greek myth and adding elements of Caribbean mythology alongside realistic issues of identity and trauma, as Eury’s loved ones debate the best way to help her in her struggles with anxiety. Though one could enjoy this story without prior knowledge of the myth, knowing the original will likely give readers a unique appreciation for this version’s updates.

From the January/February 2021 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Christina Dobbs
Christina Dobbs
Christina Dobbs is an assistant professor of English Education at Boston University. She is a former high school teacher, literacy coach, and reading specialist, and she studied adolescent literacy at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing.